Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "Votes for women. A play in three acts"

See other formats


=oo 

'CD 



?CO 



CD 



"CO 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 









VOTES FOR WOMEN 



A PLAY IN THREE ACTS 



BY 

ELIZABETH ROBINS 



MILLS & BOON, LIMITED 

49 WHITCOMB STREET 

LONDON W.C. 




( I. 



COURT THEATRE PLAYBILL 



VOTES FOE WOMEN! 

A Dramatic Tract in Three Acts 
By ELIZABETH KOBINS 



Lord John Wynnstay Mr. ATHOL FOBDE 

The Hon. Geoffrey Stonor ... Mr. AUBREY SMITH 

Mr. St. John Greatorex ... Mr. E. HOLMAN CLARK 

Mr. Richard Farnborough... Mr. P. CLAYTON GREENE 

Mr. Freddy Tunbridge ... Mr. PERCY MARMONT 

Mr. Allen Trent Mr. LEWIS CASSON 

* Mr. Walker Mr. EDMUND GWENN 

Lady John Wynnstay Miss MAUD MILTON 

Mrs. Heriot Miss FRANCES IVOR 

Miss Vida Levering , Miss WYNNE-MATTHISON 

* Miss Beatrice Dunbarton... Miss JEAN MAcKINLAY 
Mrs. Freddy Tunbridge ... Miss GERTRUDE BURNETT 
Miss Ernestine Blunt Miss DOROTHY MINTO 

A Working Woman Miss AGNES THOMAS 



ACT I. Wynnstay House in Hertfordshire. 
ACT II. Trafalgar Square, London. 
ACT III. Eaton Square, London. 



The Entire Action of the Play takes place between Sunday 
noon and six o'clock in the evening of the same day. 

* In the text these characters have been altered to Mr. PILCHEB and 
Miss JEAN Dunbarton. 




CAST 

LORD JOHN WYNNSTAY 

LADY JOHN WYNNSTAY 

MRS. HERIOT 

Miss JEAN DUNBARTON 

THE HON. GEOFFREY STONOR 

MR. ST. JOHN GREATOREX 

THE HON. RICHARD FARNBOROUGH 

MR. FREDDY TUNBRIDGE 

MRS. FREDDY TUNBRIDGE 

MR. ALLEN TRENT 

Miss ERNESTINE BLUNT 

MR. PlLCHER , 

A WORKING WOMAN 

and 

Miss VIDA LEVERING 
PERSONS IN THE CROWD : SERVANTS 



His wife 

Sister of Lady John 

Niece to Lady John 

and Mrs. Heriot 
Unionist M.P. affianced 

to Jean Dunbarton 
Liberal M.P. 



A Suffragette 
A working man 



IN THE Two HOUSES. 



vil 







ACT I 
WYNNSTAY HOUSE IN HERTFORDSHIRE 

ACT II 

TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON 

ACT III 
EATON SQUARE 

(Entire Action of Play takes place between Sumday noon and 
six o'clock in the evening of the same day.) 



-3 
-3 


w 



w 

H 







'2 

S. 



>! 



* 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 

ACT I 
HALL OF WYNNSTAY HOUSE. 

Twelve o'clock, Sunday morning, end of June. With 
the rising of the Curtain, enter the BUTLER. 
As he is going, with majestic port, to answer the 
door L., enter briskly from the garden, by 
lower French window, LADY JOHN WYNN- 
STAY, flushed, and flapping a garden hat to fan 
herself. She is a pink-cheeked woman of fifty - 
four, who has plainly been a beauty, keeps her 
complexion, but is " gone to fat." 

LADY JOHN. Has Miss Levering come down yet ? 

BUTLER (pausing C.). I haven't seen her, m'lady. 

LADY JOHN (almost sharply as BUTLER turns L.). 
I won't have her disturbed if she's resting. (To herself 
as she goes to writing-table.} She certainly needs it. 

BUTLER. Yes, m'lady. 

LADY JOHN (sitting at writing-table, her back to 
front door). But I want her to know the moment she 
comes down that the new plans arrived by the morn- 
ing post. 

BUTLER (pausing nearly at the door). Plans, 
m'la 

LADY JOHN. She'll understand. There they are. 



2 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

{Glancing at the clock.) It's very important she 
should have them in time to look over before she 

goes 

(BUTLER opens the door L.) 

(Over her shoulder.) Is that Miss Levering ? 
BUTLER. No, m'lady. Mr. Farnborough. 

[Exit BUTLER. 

(Enter the HON. R. FARNBOROUGH. He is 
twenty-six; reddish hair, high-coloured^ 
sanguine, self-important.') 

FARNBOROUGH. I'm afraid I'm scandalously early. 
It didn't take me nearly as long to motor over as Lord 
John said. 

LADY JOHN (shaking hands'). I'm afraid my 
husband is no authority on motoring and he's not 
home yet from church. 

FARN. It's the greatest luck finding you. I 
thought Miss Levering was the only person under this 
roof who was ever allowed to observe Sunday as a real 
Day of Rest. 

LADY JOHN. If you've come to see Miss 
Levering 

FARN. Is she here ? I give you my word I didn't 
know it. 

LADY JOHN (unconvinced). Oh ? 

FARN. Does she come every week-end ? 

LADY JOHN. Whenever we can get her to. But 
we've only known her a couple of months. 

FARN. And I have only known her three weeks ! 
Lady John, I've come to ask you to help me. 

LADY JOHN (quickly). With Miss Levering ? I 
can't do it! 

FARN. No, no all that's no good. She only laughs. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 3 

LADY JOHN (relieved). Ah ! she looks upon you 
as a boy. 

FABN (firing up). Such rot ! What do you think 
she said to me in London the other day ? 

LADY JOHN. That she was four years older than you ? 

FABN. Oh, 1 knew that. No. She said she knew 
she was all the charming things I'd been saying, but 
there was only one way to prove it and that was to 
marry some one young enough to be her son. She'd 
noticed that was what the most attractive women did 
and she named names. 

LADY JOHN (laughing}. You were too old ! 

FARN. (nods). Her future husband, she said, was 
probably just entering Eton. 

LADY JOHN. Just like her ! 

FABN. (waving the subject away). No. I wanted 
to see you about the Secretaryship. 

LADY JOHN. You didn't get it, then ? 

FABN. No. It's the grief of my life. 

LADY JOHN. Oh, if you don't get one you'll get 
another. 

FABN. But there is only one. 

LADY JOHN. Only one vacancy ? 

FABN. Only one man I'd give my ears to work for. 

LADY JOHN (smiling). I remember. 

FABN. (quickly). Do I always talk about Stonor ? 
Well, it's a habit people have got into. 

LADY JOHN. I forget, do you know Mr. Stonor per- 
sonally, or (smiling) are you just dazzled from afar ? 

FABN. Oh, I know him. The trouble is he doesn't 
know me. If he did he'd realise he can't be sure of 
winning his election without my valuable services. 

LADY JOHN. Geoffrey Stonor's re-election is always 
a foregone conclusion. 



4 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

FARN. That the great man shares that opinion is 
precisely his weak point. (Smiling.) His only 
one. 

LADY JOHN. You think because the Liberals swept 
the country the last time 

FARN. How can we be sure any Conservative seat 
is safe after 

(As LADY JOHN smiles and turns to her papers.) 
Forgive me, I know you're not interested in politics 
qua politics. But this concerns Geoffrey Stonor. 

LADY JOHN. And you count on my being interested 
in him like all the rest of my sex. 

FARN. (leans forward). Lady John, I've heard the 
news. 

LADY JOHN. What news ? 

FARN. That your little niece the Scotch heiress 
is going to become Mrs. Geoffrey Stonor. 

LADY JOHN. Who told you that ? 

FARN. Please don't mind my knowing. 

LADY JOHN {visibly perturbed). She had set her 
heart upon having a few days with just her family 
in the secret, before the flood of congratulations breaks 
loose. 

FARN. Oh, that's all right. I always hear things 
before other people. 

LADY JOHN. Well, I must ask you to be good 
enough to be very circumspect. I wouldn't have my 
niece think that I 

FARN. Oh, of course not. 

LADY JOHN. She will be here in an h6ur. 

FARN. (jumping up delighted). What ? To-day ? 
The future Mrs. Stonor ! 

LADY JOHN (harassed). Yes. Unfortunately we had 
one or two people already asked for the week-end 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 5 

FARN. And I go and invite myself to luncheon 1 
Lady John, you can buy me off. I'll promise to 
remove myself in five minutes if you'll 

LADY JOHN. No, the penalty is you shall stay and 
keep the others amused between church and luncheon, 
and so leave me free. (Takes up the plan.} Only 
remember 

FARN. Wild horses won't get a hint out of me ! I 
only mentioned it to you because since we've come 
back to live in this part of the world you've been so 
awfully kind I thought, I hoped maybe you you'd 
put in a word for me. 

LADY JOHN. With ? 

FARN. With your nephew that is to be. Though 
I'm not the slavish satellite people make out, you can't 
doubt 

LADY JOHN. Oh, I don't doubt. But you know Mr. 
Stonor inspires a similar enthusiasm in a good many 
young 

FARN. They haven't studied the situation as I 
have. They don't know what's at stake. They don't 
go to that hole Dutfield as I did just to hear his Friday 
speech. 

LADY JOHN. Ah ! But you were rewarded. Jean 
my niece wrote me it was " glorious." 

FARN. (judicially}. Well, you know, I was disap- 
pointed. He's too content just to criticise, just to 
make his delicate pungent fun of the men who are 
grappling very inadequately, of course still grap- 
pling with the big questions. There's a carrying 
power (gets up and faces an imaginary audience} 
some of Stonor's friends ought to point it out there's 
a driving power in the poorest constructive policy that 
makes the most brilliant criticism look barren. 



6 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LADY JOHN {with good-humoured malice). Who 
told you that ? 

FARN. You think there's nothing in it because / 
say it. But now that he's coming into the family, 
Lord John or somebody really ought to point out 
Stonor's overdoing his role of magnificent security! 

LADY JOHN. I don't see even Lord John offering 
to instruct Mr. Stonor. 

FARN. Believe me, that's just Stonor's danger ! 
Nobody saying a word, everybody hoping he's on the 
point of adopting some definite line, something strong 
and original that's going to fire the public imagination 
and bring the Tories back into power. 

LADY JOHN. So he will. 

FARN. (hotly}. Not if he disappoints meetings 
goes calmly up to town and leaves the field to the 
Liberals. 

LADY JOHN. When did he do anything like that ? 

FARN. Yesterday ! ( With a harassed air.} And 
now that he's got this other preoccupation 

LADY JOHN. You mean 

FARN. Yes, your niece that spoilt child of For- 
tune. Of course I (Stopping suddenly.} She kept 
him from the meeting last night. Well ! (sits down} 
if that's the effect she's going to have it's pretty serious ! 

LADY JOHN (smiling}. You are ! 

FARN. I can assure you the election agent's more 
so. He's simply tearing his hair. 

LADY JOHN (more gravely and coming nearer}. 
How do you know ? 

FARN. He told me so himself yesterday. I scraped 
acquaintance with the agent just to see if if 

LADY JOHN. It's not only here that you manoeuvre 
for that Secretaryship ! 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 7 

FABN. (confidentially}. You can never tell when 
your chance might come ! That election chap's promised 
to keep me posted. 

(The door flies open and JEAN DUNBABTON 
rushes in.} 

JEAN. Aunt Ellen here I 

LADY JOHN (astonished}. My dear child ! 

(They embrace. Enter LOBD JOHN from the 
garden a benevolent, silver-haired despot 
of sixty-two.} 

LOBD JOHN. I thought that was you running up 
the avenue. 

(JEAN greets her uncle warmly, but all the 
time she and her aunt talk together. " How 
did you get here so early ? " " I knew you'd 
be surprised wasn't it clever of me to 
manage it? 1 don't deserve all the credit" 

" But there isn't any train between " 

" Yes, wait till I tell you'' 1 " You walked 

in the broiling sun " " No, no" " You 

must be dead. Why didn't you telegraph ? 
1 ordered the carriage to meet the 1.10. 
Didn't you say the 1.10? Yes, I'm sure 
you did here's your letter"} 

LOBD J. (has shaken hands with FABNBOBOUGH 
and speaks through the torrent}. Now they'll tell each 
other for ten minutes that she's an hour earlier than 
we expected. 

(LOBD JOHN leads FABNBOBOUGH towards the 

garden.} 

FABN. The Freddy Tunbridges said they were 
coming to you this week. 



8 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LORD J. Yes, they're dawdling through the park 
with the Church Brigade. 

FARN. Oh I (With a glance back at JEAN.) I'll go 
and meet them. 

[Exit FARNBOROUGH. 

LORD J. (as he turns back). That discreet young 
man will get on. 

LADY JOHN (to JEAN). But how did you get here ? 

JEAN (breathless). " He " motored me down. 

LADY JOHN. Geoffrey Stonor ? (JEAN nods.) Why, 
where is he, then ? 

JEAN. He dropped me at the end of the avenue and 
went on to see a supporter about something. 

LORD J. You let him go off like that without 

LADY JOHN (taking JEAN'S two hands). Just tell 
me, my child, is it all right ? 

JEAN. My engagement ? (Radiantly.) Yes, abso- 
lutely. 

L-lDY JOHN. Geoffrey Stonor isn't going to be a 
little too old for you ? 

JEAN (laughing). Bless me, am I such a chicken ? 

LADY JOHN. Twenty-four used not to be so young 
but it's become so. 

JEAN. Yes, we don't grow up so quick. (Gaily.} 
But on the other hand we stay up longer. 

LORD J. You've got what's vulgarly called "looks," 
my dear, and that will help to keep you up ! 

JEAN (smiling}. I know what Uncle John's think- 
ing. But I'm not the only girl who's been left " what's 
vulgarly called " money. 

LORD J. You're the only one of our immediate 
circle who's been left so beautifully much. 

JEAN. Ah, but remember Geoffrey could every- 
body knows he could have married any one in England. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 9 

LADY JOHN (faintly ironic). I'm afraid everybody 
does know it not excepting Mr. Stonor. 

LORD J. Well, how spoilt is the great man ? 

JEAN. Not the least little bit in the world. You'll 
see ! He so wants to know my best-beloved relations 
better. (Another embrace.} An orphan has so few 
belongings, she has to make the most of them. 

LORD J. (smiling). Let us hope he'll approve of us 
on more intimate acquaintance. 

JEAN (firmly). He will. He's an angel. Why, he 
gets on with my grandfather ! 

LADY JOHN. Does he ? (Teasing.) You mean to say 
Mr. Geoffrey Stonor isn't just a tiny bit " superior " 
about Dissenters. 

JEAN (stoutly). Not half as much as Uncle John 
and all the rest of you ! My grandfather's been ill 
again, you know, and rather difficult bless him ! 
(Radiantly.) But Geoffrey (Clasps her hands.) 

LADY JOHN. He must have powers of persuasion ! 
to get that old Covenanter to let you come in an 
abhorred motor-car on Sunday, too ! 

JEAN (half whispering). Grandfather didn't know I 

LADY JOHN. Didn't know ? 

JEAN. I honestly meant to come by train. Geoffrey 
met me on my way to the station. We had the most 
glorious run. Oh, Aunt Ellen, we're so happy ! (Em- 
bracing her.) I've so looked forward to having you 
to myself the whole day just to talk to you about 

LORD J. (turning away with affected displeasure). 
Oh, very well 

JEAN (catches him affectionately by the arm). You'd 
find it dreffly dull to hear me talk about Geoffrey the 
whole blessed day ! 

LADY JOHN. Well, till luncheon, my dear, you 



10 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

mustn't mind if I (To LORD JOHN, as she goes 

to writing -table?) Miss Levering wasn't only tired 
last night, she was ill. 

LORD J. I thought she looked very white. 

JEAN. Who is Miss You don't mean to say 

there are other people ? 

LADY JOHN. One or two. Your uncle's responsible 
for asking that old cynic, St. John Greatorex, and I 

JEAN (gravely}. Mr. Greatorex he's a Radical, 
isn't he ? 

LORD J. (laughing}. Jean ! Beginning to " think 
in parties " ! 

LADY JOHN. It's very natural now that she 
should 

JEAN. I only meant it was odd he should be here. 
Naturally at my grandfather's 

LORD J. It's all right, my child. Of course we 
expect now that you'll begin to think like Geoffrey 
Stonor, and to feel like Geoffrey Stonor, and to talk 
like Geoffrey Stonor. And quite proper too. 

JEAN (smiling}. Well, if I do think with my hus- 
band and feel with him as, of course, I shall it will 
surprise me if I ever find myself talking a tenth as 

well 

(Following her uncle to the French window.} 

You should have heard him at Dutfield (Stopping 

short, delighted.} Oh ! The Freddy Tunbridges. 
What ? Not Aunt Lydia ! Oh-h ! 

(Looking back reproachfully at LADY JOHN, who 
makes a discreet motion " / couldn't help it"} 

(Enter the TUNBRIDGES. MR. FREDDY, of no 
profession and of independent means. 
Well-groomed, pleasant-looking ; of few 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 11 

words. A "nice man" who likes "nice 
women" and has married one of them. 
MRS. FREDDY is thirty. An attractive 
figure, delicate face, intelligent grey eyes, 
over-sensitive mouth, and naturally curling 
dust-coloured hair.) 

MRS. FREDDY. What a delightful surprise ! 

JEAN (shaking hands warmly). I'm so glad. How 
d'ye do, Mr. Freddy ? 

(Enter LADY JOHN'S sister, MRS. HERIOT 
smart, pompous, fifty followed by FARN- 

BOROUGH.) 

MRS. HERIOT. My dear Jean ! My darling child ! 

JEAN. How do you do, aunt ? 

MRS. H. (sotto voce). I wasn't surprised. I always 
prophesied 

JEAN. Sh ! Please ! 

FARN. We haven't met since you were in short 
skirts. I'm Dick Farnborough. 

JEAN. Oh, I remember. 

(Ttiey shake hands.) 

MRS. F. (looking round). Not down yet the 
Elusive One ? 

JEAN. Who is the Elusive One ? 

MRS. F. Lady John's new friend. 

LORD J. (to JEAN). Oh, I forgot you hadn't seen 
Miss Levering ; such a nice creature ! (To MRS. 
FREDDY.) don't you think ? 

MRS. F. Of course I do. You're lucky to get her 
to come so often. She won't go to other people. 

LADY JOHN. She knows she can rest here. 

FREDDY (who has joined LADY JOHN near the 
writing-table). What does she do to tire her ? 



12 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LADY JOHN. She's been helping my sister and me 
with a scheme of ours. 

MRS. H. She certainly knows how to inveigle 
money out of the men. 

LADY JOHN. It would sound less equivocal, Lydia, 
if you added that the money is to build baths in our 
Shelter for Homeless Women. 

MRS. F. Homeless women ? 

LADY JOHN. Yes, in the most insanitary part of Soho. 

FREDDY. Oh a really. 

FARN. It doesn't sound quite in Miss Levering's line ! 

LADY JOHN. My dear boy, you know as little about 
what's in a woman's line as most men. 

FREDDY (laughing}. Oh, I say ! 

LORD J. (indulgently to MR. FREDDY and FARN- 
BOROUGH). Philanthropy in a woman like Miss 
Levering is a form of restlessness. But she's a nice 
creature ; all she needs is to get some " nice " fella to 
marry her. 

MRS. F. (laughing as she hangs on her husband's 
arm}. Yes, a woman needs a balance wheel if only to 
keep her from flying back to town on a hot day like this. 

LORD J. Who's proposing anything so 

MRS. F. The Elusive One. 

LORD J. Not Miss 

MRS. F. Yes, before luncheon ! 

[Exit FARNBOROUGH to garden. 

LADY JOHN. She must be in London by this after- 
noon, she says. 

LORD J. What for in the name of 

LADY JOHN. Well, that I didn't ask her. But (con- 
sults watch) I think I'll just go up and see if she's 
changed her plans. 

[Exit LADY JOHN. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 13 

LOED J. Oh, she must be made to. Such a nice 
creature ! All she needs 

(Voices outside. Enter fussily, talking and 
gesticulating, ST. JOHN GBBATORBX, fol- 
lowed by Miss LEVERING and FARN- 
BOROUGH. GREATOREX is sixty, wealthy, 
a county magnate, and Liberal M.P. He 
is square, thick-set, square-bearded. His 
shining bald pate has two strands of coal- 
black hair trained across his crown from 
left ear to right and securely pasted there. 
He has small, twinkling 'eyes and a repu- 
tation for telling] good stories after dinner 
when ladies have left the room. He is 
carrying a little book for Miss LEVERING. 
She (parasol over shoulder), an attractive, 
essentially feminine, and rather " smart " 
woman of thirty-two, with a somewhat 
foreign grace ; the kind of whom men and 
women alike say, " What's her story? 
Why doesn't she marry?") 

GREATOREX. I protest ! Good Lord ! what are the 
women of this country coming to ? I protest against 
Miss Levering being carried off to discuss anything so 
revolting. Bless my soul ! what can a woman like you 
know about it ? 

Miss LEVERING (smiling). Little enough. Good 
morning. 

GREAT, (relieved). I should think so indeed ! 

LORD J. (aside). You aren't serious about going 

GREAT, (waggishly breaking in). We were so happy 
out there in the summer-house, weren't we ? 

MISS L. Ideally. 



14 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

GREAT. And to be haled out to talk about Public 
Sanitation forsooth ! 

(Hurries after MlSS LEVERING as she advances 
to speak to the FREDDYS, &c.) 

Why, God bless my soul, do you realise that's 
drains ? 

MlSS L. I'm dreadfully afraid it |is ! (Holds out 
her hand for the small book GREATOREX is carrying.} 

(GREATOREX returns Miss LEVERING'S look 
open ; he has been keeping the place with his 
finger. She opens it and shuts her handker- 
chief in.) 

GREAT. And we in the act of discussing Italian 
literature ! Perhaps you'll tell me that isn't a more 
savoury topic for a lady. 

MlSS L. But for the tramp population less con- 
ducive to savouriness, don't you think, than baths ? 

GREAT. No, I can't understand this morbid in- 
terest in vagrants. You're much too leave it to the 
others. 

JEAN. What others ? 

GREAT, (with smiling impertinence). Oh, the sort 
of woman who smells of indiarubber. The typical 
English spinster. (To MlSS LEVERING.) You know- 
Italy's full of her. She never goes anywhere without 
a mackintosh and a collapsible bath rubber. When 
you look at her, it's borne in upon you that she doesn't 
only smell of rubber. She's rubber too. 

LORD J. (laughing). This is my niece, Miss Jean 
Dunbarton, Miss Levering. 

JEAN. How do you do ? (They shake hands.) 

GREAT, (to JEAN). I'm sure you agree with me. 

JEAN. About Miss Levering being too 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 15 

GREAT. For that sort of thing much too 

Miss L. What a pity you've exhausted the more 
eloquent adjectives. 

GREAT. But I haven't ! 

MISS L. Well, you can't say to me as you did to 
Mrs. Freddy : " You're too young and too happily 

married and too 

(Glances round smiling at MRS. FREDDY, who, 
oblivious, is laughing and talking to her 
husband and MRS. HERIOT.) 

JEAN. For what was Mrs. Freddy too happily 
married and all the rest ? 

MISS L. (lightly). Mr. Greatorex was repudiating 
the horrid rumour that Mrs. Freddy had been speaking 
in public ; about Women's Trade Unions wasn't that 
what you said, Mrs. Heriot ? 

LORD J. (chuckling). Yes, it isn't made up as 
carefully as your aunt's parties usually are. Here 
we've got Greatorex (takes his arm) who hates political 
women, and we've got in that mild and inoffensive- 
looking little lady 

(Motion over his shoulder towards MRS. FREDDY.) 

GREAT, (shrinking down stage in comic terror). 
You don't mean she's really 

JEAN (simultaneously and gaily rising'). Oh, and 
you've got me ! 

LORD J. (with genial affection). My dear child, he 
doesn't hate the charming wives and sweethearts who 
help to win seats. 

(JEAN makes her uncle a discreet little signal 

of warning.) 

Miss L. Mr. Greatorex objects only to the unsexed 
creatures who a 



16 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LORD J. (hastily to cover up his slip}. Yes, yes, 
who want to act independently of men. 

MiSS L. Vote, and do silly things of that sort. 

LORD J. (with enthusiasm). Exactly. 

MRS. H. It will be a long time before we hear any 
more of that nonsense. 

JEAN. You mean that rowdy scene in the House 
of Commons ? 

MRS. H. Yes. No decent woman will be able to 
say " Suffrage " without blushing for another genera- 
tion, thank Heaven ! 

MiSS L. (smiling). Oh ? I understood that so little 
I almost imagined people were more stirred up about 
it than they'd ever been before. 

GREAT, (with a quizzical affectation of gallantry). 
Not people like you. 

MiSS L. (teasingly). How do you know ? 

GREAT, (with a start). God bless my soul ! 

LORD J. She's saying that only to get a rise out of 
you. 

GREAT. Ah, yes, your frocks aren't serious enough. 

MiSS L. I'm told it's an exploded notion that the 
Suffrage women are all dowdy and dull. 

GREAT. Don't you believe it ! 

MiSS L. Well, of course we know you've been an 
authority on the subject for let's see, how many years 
is it you've kept the House in roars whenever Woman's 
Rights are mentioned ? 

GREAT, (flattered but not entirely comfortable). Oh, 
as long as I've known anything about politics there 
have been a few discontented old maids and hungry 
widows 

MiSS L. " A few ! " That's really rather forbear- 
ing of you, Mr. Greatorex. I'm afraid the number of 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 17 

the discontented and the hungry was 96,000 among 
the mill operatives alone. (Hastily.) At least the 
papers said so, didn't they ? 

GREAT. Oh, don't ask me ; that kind of woman 
doesn't interest me, I'm afraid. Only I am able to 
point out to the people who lose their heads and seem 
inclined to treat the phenomenon seriously that there's 
absolutely nothing new in it. There have been women 
for the last forty years who haven't had anything more 
pressing to do than petition Parliament. 

MlSS L. (reflectively). And that's as far as they've 
got. 

LORD J. (turning on his heel). It's as far as they'll 
ever get. 

(Meets the group up R. coming down.) 
Miss L. (chaffing GREATORBX). Let me see, wasn't 
a deputation sent to you not long ago ? (Sits C.) 
GREAT. H'm ! (Irritably.) Yes, yes. 
Miss L. (as though she has just recalled the cir- 
cumstances). Oh, yes, I remember. I thought at 
the time, in my modest way, it was nothing short of 
heroic of them to go asking audience of their arch 
opponent. 

GREAT, (stoutly). It didn't come off. 
MlSS L. (innocently). Oh ! I thought they insisted 
on bearding the lion in his den. 

GREAT. Of course I wasn't going to be bothered 

with a lot of 

MlSS L. You don't mean you refused to go out and 
face them ! 

GREAT, (with a comic look of terror). I wouldn't 
have done it for worlds. But a friend of mine went 
and had a look at 'em. 

MlSS L. (smiling). Well, did he get back alive ? 



18 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

GREAT. Yes, but he advised me not to go. "You're 
quite right," he said. " Don't you think of bothering," 
he said. " I've looked over the lot," he said, " and 
there isn't a week-ender among 'em." 

JEAN (gaily precipitates herself into the conversa- 
tion). You remember Mrs. Freddy's friend who came 
to tea here in the winter ? (To GREATOREX.) He 
was a member of Parliament too quite a little young 
one he said women would never be respected till they 
had the vote ! 

(GRBATORBX snorts, the other men smile and 
all the women except MRS. HERIOT.) 

MRS. H. (sniffing}. I remember telling him that 
he was too young to know what he was talking 
about. 

LORD J. Yes, I'm afraid you all sat on the poor 
gentleman. 

LADY JOHN (entering}. Oh, there you are ! 
(Greets Miss LEVERING.) 

JEAN. It was such fun. He was flat as a pancake 
when we'd done with him. Aunt Ellen told him 
with her most distinguished air she didn't want to be 
" respected." 

MRS. F. (with a little laugh of remonstrance}. My 
dear Lady John ! 

FARN. Quite right ! Awful idea to think you're 
respected ! 

MlSS L. (smiling}. Simply revolting. 

LADY JOHN (at writing-table}. Now, you frivolous 
people, go away. We've only got a few minutes to 
talk over the terms of the late Mr. Soper's munificence 
before the carriage comes for Miss Levering 

MRS. F. (to FARNBOROUGH). Did you know she'd 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 19 

got that old horror to give Lady John 8,000 for her 
charity before he died ? 

MRS. F. Who got him to ? 

LADY JOHN. Miss Levering. He wouldn't do it 
for me, but she brought him round. 

FREDDY. Yes. Bah-ee Jove ! I expect so. 
MRS. F. (turning enthusiastically to her husband). 
Isn't she wonderful ? 

LORD J. (aside). Nice creature. All she needs 

is 

(MR. and MRS. FREDDY and FARNBOROUGH 
stroll off to the garden. LADY JOHN on 
far side of the writing-table. MRS. HERIOT 
at the top. JEAN and LORD JOHN, L.) 

GREAT, (on divan c., aside to Miss LEVERING). 
Too " wonderful " to waste your time on the wrong 
people. 

MlSS L. I shall waste less of my time after 
this. 

GREAT. I'm relieved to hear it. I can't see you 
wheedling money for shelters and rot of that sort out 
of retired grocers. 

MlSS L. You see, you call it rot. We couldn't have 
got 8,000 out of you. 

GREAT, (very low). I'm not sure. 

(Miss LEVERING looks at him.) 

GREAT. If I gave you that much for your little 
projects what would you give me ? 

MlSS L. (speaking quietly). Soper didn't ask that, 

GREAT, (horrified). Soper ! I should think not ! 

LORD J. (turning to Miss LEVERING). Soper ? 
You two still talking Soper ? How flattered the old 
beggar'd be ! 



20 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LORD J. (lower). Did you hear what Mrs. Heriot 
said about him ? " So kind ; so munificent so 
vulgar, poor soul, we couldn't know him in London 
but we shall meet him in heaven" 

(GREATOREX and LORD JOHN go off laughing.) 

LADY JOHN (to Miss Levering). Sit over there, my 
dear. (Indicating chair in front of writing-table.) 
You needn't stay, Jean. This won't interest you. 

Miss L. (in the tone of one agreeing). It's only an 
effort to meet the greatest evil in the world ? 

JEAN (pausing as she 's following the others). What 
do you call the greatest evil in the world ? 
(Looks pass between MRS. HERIOT and LADY JOHN.) 

MlSS L. (without emphasis). The helplessness of 
women. 

(JEAN stands still.) 

LADY JOHN (rising and putting her arm about the 
girl's shoulder). Jean, darling, I know you can think 
of nothing but (aside) him so just go and 

JEAN (brightly). Indeed, indeed, I can think of 
everything better than I ever did before. He has lit 
up everything for me made everything vivider, more 
more significant. 

Miss L. (turning round). Who has ? 

JEAN. Oh, yes, I don't care about other things less 
but a thousand times more. 

LADY JOHN. You are in love. 

Miss L. Oh, that's it ! (Smiling at JEAN.) I con- 
gratulate you. 

LADY JOHN (returning to the outspread plan). 
Well this, you see, obviates the difficulty you raised. 

MlSS L. Yes, quite. 

MRS. H. But it's going to cost a great deal more. 

MlSS L. It's worth it. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 21 

MRS. H. We'll have nothing left for the organ at 
St. Pilgrim's. 

LADY JOHN. My dear Lydia, we're putting the organ 
aside. 

MRS. H. (with asperity). We can't afford to " put 
aside " the elevating effect of music. 

LADY JOHN. What we must make for, first, is the 
cheap and humanely conducted lodging-house. 

MRS. H. There are several of those already, but 
poor St. Pilgrim's 

MlSS L. There are none for the poorest women. 

LADY JOHN. No, even the excellent Soper was for 
multiplying Rowton Houses. You can never get men 
to realise you can't always get women 

MlSS L. It's the work least able to wait. 

MRS. H. I don't agree with you, and I happen to 
have spent a great deal of my life in works of 
charity. 

MlSS L. Ah, then you'll be interested in the girl 
I saw dying in a Tramp Ward a little while ago. 
Glad her cough was worse only she mustn't die 
before her father. Two reasons. Nobody but her to 
keep the old man out of the workhouse and " father 
is so proud." If she died first, he would starve ; worst 
of all he might hear what had happened up in London 
to his girl. 

MRS. H. She didn't say, I suppose, how she hap- 
pened to fall so low. 

MlSS L. Yes, she had been in service. She lost the 
train back one Sunday night and was too terrified of 
her employer to dare ring him up after hours. The 
wrong person found her crying on the platform. 

MRS. H. She should have gone to one of the 
Friendly Societies. 



22 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS L. At eleven at night ? 

MRS. H. And there are the Rescue Leagues. I 
myself have been connected with one for twenty 
years 

MlSS L. (reflectively). " Twenty years ! " Always 
arriving " after the train's gone " after the girl and 
the Wrong Person have got to the journey's end. 
(MRS. HERIOT'S eyes flash.] 

JEAN. Where is she now ? 

LADY JOHN. Never mind. 

MlSS L. Two nights ago she was waiting at a street 
corner in the rain. 

MRS. H. Near a public-house, I suppose. 

MlSS L. Yes, a sort of "public-house." She was 
plainly dying she was told she shouldn't be out in the 
rain. " I mustn't go in yet," she said. " This is what he 
gave me," and she began to cry. In her hand were 
two pennies silvered over to look like half-crowns. 

MRS. H. I don't believe that story. It's just the 
sort of thing some sensation-monger trumps up now, 
who tells you such 

MlSS L. Several credible people. I didn't be- 
lieve them till 

JEAN. Till ? 

MlSS L. Till last week I saw for myself. 

LADY JOHN. Saw f Where ? 

MlSS L In a low lodging-house not a hundred 
yards from the church you want a new organ for. 

MRS. H. How did you happen to be there ? 

MlSS L. I was on a pilgrimage. 

JEAN. A pilgrimage ? 

MlSS L. Into the Underworld. 

LADY JOHN. You went ? 

JEAN. How could you ? 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 23 

< 

Miss L. I put on an old gown and a tawdry hat 

(Turns to LADY JOHN.) You'll never know how 
many things are hidden from a woman in good clothes. 
The bold, free look of a man at a woman he believes to 
be destitute you must feel that look on you before you 
can understand a good half of history. 

MRS. H. (rises). Jean ! 

JEAN. But where did you go dressed like that ? 

MlSS L. Down among the homeless women on a 
wet night looking for shelter. 

LADY JOHN (hastily). No wonder you've been ill. 

JEAN (under breath). And it's like that ? 

MlSS L. No. 

JEAN. No ? 

MlSS L. It's so much worse I dare not tell about it 
even if you weren't here I couldn't. 

MRS. H. (to JEAN). You needn't suppose, darling, 
that those wretched creatures feel it as we would. 

MlSS L. The girls who need shelter and work aren't 
all serving-maids. 

MRS. H. (with an involuntary flash). We know 
that all the women who make mistakes aren't. 

MlSS L. (steadily}. That is why every woman ought 
to take an interest in this every girl too. 

JEAN ) , . ( Yes oh, yes ! 

I (simul- XT mu '. ' . 

7 N \ No. This is a matter 
LADY JOHN) taneously}\ for U8 older 

MRS. H. (with an air of sly challenge). Or for a 
person who has some special knowledge. (Signifi- 
cantly.} We can't pretend to have access to such 
sources of information as Miss Levering. 

Miss L. (meeting MRS. HERIOT'S eye steadily}. Yes, 
for I can give you access. As you seem to think, I 
have some first-hand knowledge about homeless girls. 



24 

LADY JOHN (cheerfully turning it aside). Well, 
my dear, it will all come in convenient. (Tapping 
the plan.) 

MlSS L. It once happened to me to take offence at 
- an ugly thing that was going on under my father's 
roof. Oh, years ago ! I was an impulsive girl. I 
turned my back on my father's house 

LADY JOHN (for JEAN'S benefit). That was ill- 
advised. 

MES. H. Of course, if a girl does that 

Miss L. That was what all my relations said (with 
a glance at JEAN), and I couldn't explain. 

JEAN. Not to your mother ? 

Miss L. She was dead. I went to London to a 
small hotel and tried to find employment. I wandered 
about all day and every day from agency to agency. I 
was supposed to be educated. I'd been brought up 
partly in Paris ; I could play several instruments, and 
sing little songs in four different tongues. (Slight 
pause.) 

JEAN. Did nobody want you to teach French or 
sing the little songs ? 

MlSS L. The heads of schools thought me too 
young. There were people ready to listen to my 
singing, but the terms they were too hard. Soon 
my money was gone. I began to pawn my trinkets. 
They went. 

JEAN. And still no work ? 

MlSS L. No ; but by that time I had some real 
education an unpaid hotel bill, and not a shilling 
in the world. (Slight pause.) Some girls think it 
hardship to have to earn their living. The horror 
is not to be allowed to 

JEAN, (bending forward). What happened ? 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 25 

LADY JOHN (rises). My dear (to Miss LEVERING), 
have your things been sent down ? Are you quite 
ready ? 

MISS L. Yes, all but my hat. 

JEAN. Well ? 

Miss L. Well, by chance I met a friend of my 
family. 

JEAN. That was lucky. 

MlSS L. I thought so. He was nearly ten years 
older than I. He said he wanted to help me. 
(Pause.) 

JEAN. And didn't he ? 

(LADY JOHN lays her hand on Miss LEVEE- 
ING'S shoulder.) 

Miss L. Perhaps after all he did. (With sudden 
change of tone.) Why do I waste time over myself ? 
I belonged to the little class of armed women. My 
body wasn't born weak, and my spirit wasn't broken 
by the habit of slavery. But, as Mrs. Heriot was kind 
enough to hint, I do know something about the pos- 
sible fate of homeless girls. I found there were 
pleasant parks, museums, free libraries in our great 
rich London and not one single place where destitute 
women can be sure of work that isn't killing or food 
that isn't worse than prison fare. That's why women 
ought not to sleep o' nights till this Shelter stands 
spreading out wide arms. 

JEAN. No, no 

MRS. H. (gathering up her gloves, fan, prayer- 
book, <kc.). Even when it's built you'll see ! Many 
of those creatures will prefer the life they lead. They 
like it. 

Miss L. A woman told me one of the sort that 



26 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

knows told me many of them " like it" so much that 
they are indifferent to the risk of being sent to prison. 
" It gives them a rest" she said. 
LADY JOHN. A rest ! 

(Miss LEVERING glances at the clock as she rises 

to go upstairs.} 
(LADY JOHN and MRS. HERIOT bend their 

heads over the plan, covertly talking.) 

JEAN (intercepting Miss LEVERING). I want to 
begin to understand something of I'm horribly 
ignorant. 

MlSS L. (Looks at her searchingly). I'm a rather 
busy person 

JEAN, (interrupting). I have a quite special reason 
for wanting not to be ignorant. (Impulsively). I'll 
go to town to-morrow, if you'll come and lunch 
with me. 

Miss L. Thank you I (catches MRS. HERIOT'S 
eye) I must go and put my hat on. 

[Exit upstairs. 

MRS. H. (aside). How little she minds all these 
horrors ! 

LADY JOHN. They turn me cold. Ugh ! (Rising, 
harassed.) I wonder if she's signed the visitors' 
book ! 

MRS. H. For all her Shelter schemes, she's a hard 
woman. 

JEAN. Miss Levering is ? 

MRS. H. Oh, of course you won't think so. She 
has angled very adroitly for your sympathy. 

JEAN. She doesn't look hard. 

LADY JOHN (glancing at JEAN and taking alarm). 
I'm not sure but what she does. Her mouth always 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 27 

like this ... as if she were holding back something 
by main force ! 
MBS. H. (half under her breath}. Well, so she is. 

[Exit LADY JOHN into the lobby to look at the 
visitors' book. 

JEAN. Why haven't I seen her before ? 

MRS. H. Oh, she's lived abroad. (Debating with 
herself.} You don't know about her, I suppose ? 

JEAN. I don't know how Aunt Ellen came to know 
her. 

MBS. H. That was my doing. But I didn't bargain 
for her being introduced to you. 

JEAN. She seems to go everywhere. And why 
shouldn't she ? 

MRS. H. (quickly). You mustn't ask her to Eaton 
Square. 

JEAN. I have. 

MRS. H. Then you'll have to get out of it. 

JEAN (with a stubborn look}. I must have a reason. 
And a very good reason. 

MRS. H. Well, it's not a thing I should have pre- 
ferred to tell you, but I know how difficult you are to 
guide ... so I suppose you'll have to know. (Lower- 
ing her voice.} It was ten or twelve years ago. I 
found her horribly ill in a lonely Welsh farmhouse. 
We had taken the Manor for that August. The farmer's 
wife was frightened, and begged me to go and see what 
I thought. I soon saw how it was I thought she was 
dying. 

JEAN. Dying ! What was the 

MRS. H. I got no more out of her than the farmer's 
wife did. She had had no letters. There had been no 
one to see her except a man down from London, a 



28 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

shady-looking doctor nameless, of course. And then 
this result. The farmer and his wife, highly respect- 
able people, were incensed. They were for turning the 
girl out. 

JEAN. Oh I but 

MRS. H. Yes. Pitiless some of these people are ! 
I insisted they should treat the girl humanely, and we 
became friends . . . that is, " sort of." In spite of all 
I did for her 

JEAN. What did you do ? 

MBS. H. I I've told you, and I lent her money. 
No small sum either. 

JEAN. Has she never paid it back ? 

MRS. H. Oh, yes, after a time. But I always kept 
her secret as much as I knew of it. 

JEAN. But you've been telling me ! 

MRS. H. That was my duty and I never had her 
full confidence. 

JEAN. Wasn't it natural she 

MRS. H. Well, all things considered, she might 
have wanted to tell me who was responsible. 

JEAN. Oh ! Aunt Lydia ! 

MRS. H. All she ever said was that she was ashamed 
(losing her temper and her fine feeling for the inno- 
cence of her auditor) ashamed that she " hadn't had 
the courage to resist " not the original temptation but 
the pressure brought to bear on her " not to go through 
with it," as she said. 

JEAN (wrinkling Tier brows). You are being so 
delicate I'm not sure I understand. 

MRS. H. (irritably). The only thing you need 
understand is that she's not a desirable companion 
for a young girl. 

(Pause.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 29 

JEAN. When did you see her after after 

MRS. H. (with a slight grimace). I met her last 
winter at the Bishop's. (Hurriedly.} She's a connec- 
tion of his wife's. They'd got her to help with some 
of their work. Then she took hold of ours. Your 
aunt and uncle are quite foolish about her, and I'm 
debarred from taking any steps, at least till the Shelter 
is out of hand. 

JEAN. I do rather wonder she can bring herself to 
talk about the unfortunate women of the world. 

MRS. H. The effrontery of it ! 

JEAN. Or ... the courage ! (Puts her hand up 
to her throat as if the sentence had caught there.} 

MRS. H. Even presumes to set me right ! Of 
course I don't mind in the least, poor soul . . . but I 
feel I owe it to your dead mother to tell you about her, 
especially as you're old enough now to know something 
about life 

JEAN (slowly} and since a girl needn't be very old 
to suffer for her ignorance. (Moves a little away.} I 
felt she was rather wonderful. 

MRS. H. Wonderful ! 

JEAN (pausing}. ... To have lived through that 
when she was . . . how old ? 

MRS. H. (rising}. Oh, nineteen or thereabouts. 

JEAN. Five years younger than I. To be abandoned 
and to come out of it like this ! 

MRS. H. (laying her hand on the girTs shoulder}. 
It was too bad to have to tell you such a sordid story 
to-day of all days. 

JEAN. It is a very terrible story, but this wasn't a 
bad time. I feel very sorry to-day for women who 
aren't happy. 

(Motor horn heard faintly.} 
(Jumping up.} That's Geoffrey 1 



30 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MRS. H. Mr. Stonor ! What makes you think . . . ? 

JEAN. Yes, yes. I'm sure, I'm sure 

(Checks herself as she is flying off'. Turns and 
sees LORD JOHN entering from the garden.) 
(Motor horn louder.} 

LORD J. Who do you think is motoring up the 
drive ? 

JEAN (catching hold of him). Oh, dear ! how am I 
ever going to be able to behave like a girl who isn't 
engaged to the only man in the world worth marrying ? 

MRS. H. You were expecting Mr. Stonor all the 
time ! 

JEAN. He promised he'd come to luncheon if it was 
humanly possible ; but I was afraid to tell you for fear 
he'd be prevented. 

LORD J. (laughing as he crosses to the lobby). You 
felt we couldn't have borne the disappointment. 

JEAN. I felt I couldn't. 

(The lobby door opens. LADY JOHN appears 
radiant, folio wed by a tall figure in a dust- 
coat, &c., no goggles. He has straight, firm 
features, a little blunt; fair skin, high- 
coloured ; fine, straight hair, very fair ; 
grey eyes, set somewhat prominently and 
heavy when not interested ; lips full, but 
firmly moulded. GEOFFREY STONOR is 
heavier than a man of forty should be, 
but otherwise in the pink of physical con- 
dition. The FOOTMAN stands waiting to 
help him off with his motor coat.) 
LADY JOHN. Here's an agreeable surprise ! 

(JEAN has gone forward only a step, and stands 
smiling at the approaching figure.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 31 

LOBD J. How do you do ? (As he comes between 
them and briskly shakes hands with STONOR.) 
(FARNBOROUGH appears at the French window.) 
FARN. Yes, by Jove ! Turning to the others 
clustered round the window.*) What gigantic luck ! 

(Those outside crane and glance, and then 
elaborately turn their backs and pretend 
to be talking among themselves, but betray 
as far as manners permit the enormous 
sensation the arrival has created.) 

STONOR. How do you do ? 

(Shakes hands with MRS. HERIOT, who has 
rushed up to him with both hers out- 
stretched. He crosses to JEAN, who meets 
him half way ; they shake hands, smiling 
into each other's eyes.} 

JEAN. Such a long time since we met ! 

LORD J. (to STONOR). You're growing very enter- 
prising. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard 
you'd motored all the way from town to see a sup- 
porter on Sunday. 

STONOR. I don't know how we covered the 
ground in the old days. (To LADY JOHN.) It's no 
use to stand for your borough any more. The 
American, you know, he " runs " for Congress. By 
and by we shall all be flying after the thing we want. 

(Smiles at JEAN.) 

JEAN. Sh ! (Smiles and then glances over her 
shoulder and speaks low.} All sorts of irrelevant people 
here. 

FARN. (unable to resist the temptation, comes for- 
ward). How do you do, Mr. Stonor ? 




32 VOTES FOR WOMEN 



STONOR. Ohhow d'you do. 

FARN. Some of them were arguing in the smoking- 
room last night whether it didn't hurt a man's chances 
going about in a motor. 

LORD J. Yes, we've been hearing a lot of stories 
about the unpopularity of motor-cars among the 
class that hasn't got 'em, of course. What do you 
say ? 

LADY JOHN. I'm sure you gain more votes by being 
able to reach so many more of your constituency than 
we used 

STONOR. Well, I don't know I've sometimes 
wondered whether the charm of our presence wasn't 
counterbalanced by the way we tear about smothering 
our fellow-beings in dust and running down their pigs 
and chickens, not to speak of their children. 

LORD J. (anxiously}. What on the whole are the 
prospects ? 

(FARNBOROUGH cranes forward.) 

STONOR (gravely). We shall have to work harder 
than we realised. 
FARN. Ah! 

(Retires towards group.) 

JEAN (in a half-aside as she slips her arm in her 
uncle's and smiles at GEOFFREY). He says he 
believes I'll be able to make a real difference to his 
chances. Isn't it angelic of him ? 

STONOR (in a jocular tone). Angelic ? Macchia- 
velian. I pin all my hopes on your being able to 
counteract the pernicious influence of my opponent's 
glib wife. 

JEAN. You want me to have a real share in it all, 
don't you, Geoffrey ? 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 33 

STONOR (smiling into her eyes). Of course I do. 

(FARNBOROUGH drops down again on pretence 
of talking to MRS. HERIOT.) 

LORD J. I don't gather you're altogether sanguine. 
Any complication ? 

(JEAN and LADY JOHN stand close together 
(C.), the girl radiant, following STONOR 
with her eyes and whispering to the sympa- 
thetic elder woman.} 

STONOR. Well (taking Sunday paper out of 
pocket}, there's this agitation about the Woman 
Question. Oddly enough, it seems likely to affect the 
issue. 

LORD J. Why should it ? Can't you do what the 
other four hundred have done ? 

STONOR (laughs). Easily. But, you see, the mere 
fact that four hundred and twenty members have been 
worried into promising support and then once in the 
House have let the matter severely alone 

LORD J. (to STONOR). Let it alone ! Bless my 
soul, I should think so indeed. 

STONOR. Of course. Only it's a device that's 
somewhat worn. 

(Enter Miss LEVERING, with hat on; gloves 
and veil in her hand.} 

LORD J. Still if they think they're getting a future 
Cabinet Minister on their side 

STONOR ... it will be sufficiently embarrassing 
for the Cabinet Minister. 

(STONOR turns to speak to JEAN. Stops dead 
seeing Miss LEVERING.) 



34 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

JEAN (smiling'). You know one another ? 

Miss L. {looking at STONOR with intentness but 
quite calmly}. Everybody in this part of the world 
knows Mr. Stonor, but he doesn't know me. 

LORD J. Miss Levering. 

(They bow.} 

(Enter GREATORBX, sidling in with an air of 
giving MRS. FREDDY a wide berth.} 

JEAN (to Miss LEVERING with artless enthusiasm}. 
Oh, have you been hearing him speak ? 

MlSS L. Yes, I was visiting some relations near 
Dutfield. They took me to hear you. 

STONOR. Oh the night the Suffragettes made 
their customary row. 

MlSS L. The night they asked you 

STONOR (flying at the first chance of distraction, 
shakes hands with MRS. FREDDY). Well, Mrs. Freddy, 
what do you think of your friends now ? 

MRS. F. My friends ? 

STONOR (offering her the Sunday paper}. Yes, 
the disorderly women. 

MRS. F. (with dignity}. They are not my friends, 
but I don't think you must call them 

STONOR. Why not ? (Laughs.} I can forgive 
them for worrying the late Government. But they 
are disorderly. 

MlSS L. (quietly}. Isn't the phrase consecrated to a 
different class ? 

GREAT, (who has got hold of the Sunday paper}. 
He's perfectly right. How do you do ? Disorderly 
women ! That's what they are ! 

FARN. (reading over his shoulder}. Ought to be 
locked up ! every one of 'em. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 35' 

GREAT, (assenting angrily}. Public nuisances ! 
Going about with dog whips and spitting in police- 
men's faces. 

MRS. F. (with a harassed air}. I wonder if they 
did spit ? 

GREAT, (exulting}. Of course they did. 

MRS. F. (turns on him). You're no authority on 
what they do. You run away. 

GREAT, (trying to turn the laugh}. Run away ? 
Yes. (Backing a few paces.} And if ever I muster 
up courage to come back, it will be to vote for better 
manners in public life, not worse than we have 
already. 

MRS. F. (meekly}. So should I. Don't think that 1 
defend the Suffragette methods. 

JEAN, (with cheerful curiosity}. Still, you are an 
advocate of the Suffrage, aren't you ? 

MRS. F. Here? (Shrugs.} I don't beat the 
air. 

GREAT, (mocking}. Only policemen. 

MRS. F. (plaintively}. If you cared to know the 
attitude of the real workers in the reform, you might 
have noticed in any paper last week we lost no time 
in dissociating ourselves from the little group of 
hysterical (Catches her husband's eye, and in- 
stantly checks her flow of words.} 

MRS. H. They have lowered the whole sex in the 
eyes of the entire world. 

JEAN (joining GEOFFREY STONOR). I can't quite 
see what they want those Suffragettes. 

GREAT. Notoriety. 

FARN. What they want ? A good thrashin' 
that's what I'd give 'em. 

MlSS L. (murmurs}. Spirited fellow ! 



36 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LORD J. Well, there's one sure thing they've 
dished their goose. 

(GREATOREX chuckles, still reading the account.} 
I believe these silly scenes are a pure joy to you. 

GREAT. Final death-blow to the whole silly 
business ! 

JEAN (my stifled, looking from one to the other). The 
Suffragettes don't seem to know they're dead. 

GREAT. They still keep up a sort of death-rattle. 
But they've done for themselves. 

JEAN (clasping her hands with fervour}. Oh, I 
hope they'll last till the election's over. 

FARN. (stares). Why ? 

JEAN. Oh, we want them to get the working man 
to (stumbling and a little confused) to vote for . . . 
the Conservative candidate. Isn't that so ? 

(Looking round for help. General laughter.) 

LORD J. Fancy, Jean ! 

GREAT. The working man's a good deal of an ass, 
but even he won't listen to 

JEAN (again appealing to the silent STONOR). But 
he does listen like anything ! I asked why there were 
so few at the Long Mitcham meeting, and I was told, 
" Oh, they've all gone to hear Miss " 

STONOR. Just for a lark, that was. 

LORD J. It has no real effect on the vote. 

GREAT. Not the smallest. 

JEAN (wide-eyed, to STONOR). Why, I thought you 
said 

STONOR (hastily, rubbing his hand over the 
lower part of his face and speaking quickly). I've 
a notion a little soap and water wouldn't do me any 
harm. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 37 

LORD J. I'll take you up. You know Freddy 
Tunbridge. 

(STONOR pauses to shake hands. Exeunt all 
three.) 

JEAN (perplexed, as STONOR turns away, says to 
GRBATOREX). Well, if women are of no importance 
in politics, it isn't for the reason you gave. There is 
now and then a week-ender among them. 

GREAT, (shuffles about uneasily). Hm Hm. (Finds 
himself near MRS. FREDDY.) Lord ! The perils that 
beset the feet of man ! 

(With an air of comic caution, moves away, L.) 

JEAN (to FARNBOROUGH, aside, laughing). Why 
does he behave like that ? 

FARN. His moral sense is shocked. 

JEAN. Why, I saw him and Mrs. Freddy together 
at the French Play the other night as thick as 
thieves. 

MlSS L. Ah, that was before he knew her revolt- 
ing views. 

JEAN. What revolting views ? 

GREAT. Sh ! Sunday. 

(-4s GREATOREX sidles cautiously further away.) 

JEAN (laughing in spite of herself). I can't believe 
women are so helpless when I see men so afraid of 
them. 

GREAT. The great mistake was in teaching them to 
read and write. 

JEAN (over Miss LEVERING'S shoulder, whispers). 
Say something. 

Miss L. (to GREATOREX, smiling). Oh no, that 
wasn't the worst mistake. 

GREAT. Yes, it was. 



38 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS L. No. Believe me. The mistake was in 
letting women learn to talk. 

GREAT. Ah! (Wheels about with sudden rapture.) 
I see now what's to be the next great reform. 

MlSS L. (holding up the little volume). When 
women are all dumb, no more discussions of the 
" Paradise." 

GREAT, (with a gesture of mock rapture). The 
thing itself ! (Aside.) That's a great deal better than 
talking about it, as I'm sure you know. 

MlSS L. Why do you think I know ? 

GREAT. Only the plain women are in any doubt. 

(JEAN /oms Miss LEVERING.) 

GREAT. Wait for me, Farnborough. I cannot go 
about unprotected. 

[Exeunt FARNBOROUGH and GREATOREX. 

MRS. F. It's true what that old cynic says. The 
scene in the House has put back the reform a genera- 
tion. 

JEAN. I wish 'd been there. 

MRS. F. I was. 

JEAN. Oh, was it like the papers said ? 

MRS. F. Worse. I've never been so moved in 
public. No tragedy, no great opera ever gripped an 
audience as the situation in the House did that night. 
There we all sat breathless with everything more 
favourable to us than it had been within the memory 
of women. Another five minutes and the Resolution 
would have passed. Then ... all in a moment 

LADY JOHN (to MRS. HERIOT). Listen they're 
talking about the female hooligans. 

MRS. H. No, thank you ! (Sits apart with the 
"Church Times") 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 39 

MRS. F. (excitedly}. All in a moment a horrible 
dingy little flag was poked through the grille of the 
Woman's Gallery cries insults scuffling the 
police the ignominious turning out of the women 
us as well as the Oh, I can't think of it with- 
out 

(Jumps up and walks to and fro.} 

(Pauses.} Then the next morning ! The people 
gloating. Our friends antagonised people who were 
wavering nearly won over all thrown back heart 
breaking ! Even my husband ! Freddy's been an 
angel about letting me take my share when I felt I 
must but of course I've always known he doesn't 
really like it. It makes him shy. I'm sure it gives 
him a horrid twist inside when he sees my name 
among the speakers on the placards. But he's always 
been an angel about it before this. After the disgrace- 
ful scene he said, " It just shows how unfit women 
are for any sort of coherent thinking or concerted 
action." 

JEAN. To think that it should be women who've 
given the Cause the worst blow it ever had ! 

Mrs. F. The work of forty years destroyed in five 
minutes ! 

JEAN. They must have felt pretty sick when they 
woke up the next morning the Suffragettes. 

MRS. F. I don't waste any sympathy on them. I'm 
thinking of the penalty all women have to pay because 
a handful of hysterical 

JEAN. Still I think I'm sorry for them. It must 
be dreadful to find you've done such a lot of harm to 
the thing you care most about in the world. 

Miss L. Do you picture the Suffragettes sitting in 
sackcloth ? 



40 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MRS. F. Well, they can't help realising now what 
they've done. 

MlSS L. (quietly). Isn't it just possible they realise 
they've waked up interest in the Woman Question so 
that it's advertised in every paper and discussed in 
every house from Land's End to John o'Groats ? 
Don't you think they know there's been more said and 
written about it in these ten days since the scene, than 
in the ten years before it ? 

MRS. F. You aren't saying you think it was a good 
way to get what they wanted ? 

MlSS L. (shrugs'). I'm only pointing out that it 
seems not such a bad way to get it known they do 
want something and (smiling') " want it bad." 

JEAN (getting up). Didn't Mr. Greatorex say women 
had been politely petitioning Parliament for forty 
years ? 

MlSS L. And men have only laughed. 

JEAN. But they'd come round. (She looks from 
one to the other.) Mrs. Tunbridge says, before that 
horrid scene, everything was favourable at last. 

MlSS L. At last ? Hadn't it been just as " favour- 
able " before ? 

MRS. F. No. We'd never had so many members 
pledged to our side. 

MlSS L. I thought I'd heard somebody say the Bill 
had got as far as that, time and time again. 

JEAN. Oh no. Surely not 

MRS. F. (reluctantly). Y-yes. This was only a 
Resolution. The Bill passed a second reading thirty- 
seven years ago. 

JEAN (with wide eyes). And what difference did it 
make ? 

MlSS L. The men laughed rather louder. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 41 

MKS. F. Oh, it's got as far as a second reading 
several times but we never had so many friends in 
the House before 

MlSS L. (with a faint smile). " Friends ! " 

JEAN. Why do you say it like that ? 

MlSS L. Perhaps because I was thinking of a 
funny story he said it was funny a Liberal Whip 
told me the other day. A Radical Member went out of 
the House after his speech in favour of the Woman's 
Bill, and as he came back half an hour later, he heard 
some Members talking in the Lobby about the astonishing 
number who were going to vote for the measure. And 
the Friend of Woman dropped his jaw and clutched 
the man next him : " My God ! " he said, " you don't 
mean to say they're going to give it to them ! " 

JEAN. Oh ! 

MBS. F. You don't think all men in Parliament are 
like that ! 

MlSS L. I don't think all men are burglars, but I 
lock my doors. 

JEAN (below her breath}. You think that night of 
the scene you think the men didn't mean to play 
fair? 

Miss L. (her coolness in contrast to the excitement of 
the others}. Didn't the women sit quiet till ten minutes 
to closing time ? 

JEAN. Ten minutes to settle a question like that ! 

MlSS L. (quietly to MRS. FREDDY). Couldn't you 
see the men were at their old game ? 

LADY J OHN (coming forward}. You think they were 
just putting off the issue till it was too late ? 

MlSS L. (in a detached tone). I wasn't there, but I 
haven't heard anybody deny that the women waited 
till ten minutes to eleven. Then they discovered the 



42 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

policeman who'd been sent up at the psychological 
moment to the back of the gallery. Then, I'm told, 
when the women saw they were betrayed once more, 
they utilised the few minutes left, to impress on the 
country at large the fact of their demands did it in 
the only way left them. 

(Sits leaning forward reflectively smiling, chin 
in hand.) 

It does rather look to the outsider as if the well- 
behaved women had worked for forty years and made 
less impression on the world then those fiery young 
women made in five minutes. 

MRS. F. Oh, come, be fair ! 

MlSS L. Well, you must admit that, next day, 
every newspaper reader in Europe and America knew 
there were women in England in such dead earnest 
about the Suffrage that the men had stopped laughing 
at last, and turned them out of the House. Men even 
advertised how little they appreciated the fun by 
sending the women to gaol in pretty sober earnest. 
And all the world was talking about it. 

(MRS. HERIOT lays down the " Church Times " 
and joins the others.) 

LADY JOHN. I have noticed, whenever the men 
aren't there, the women sit and discuss that scene. 

JEAN (cheerfully). 1 shan't have to wait till the 
men are gone. (Leans over LADY JOHN'S shoulder 
and says half aside) He's in sympathy. 

LADY JOHN. How do you know ? 

JEAN. He told the interrupting women so. 

(MRS. FREDDY looks mystified. The others 
smile.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 43 

LADY JOHN. Oh ! 

(MR. FREDDY and LORD JOHN appear by the 
door they went out of. They stop to talk.} 

MRS. F. Here's Freddy ! (Lower, hastily to MlSS 
LEVERING.) You're judging from the outside. Those 
of us who have been working for years ... we all 
realise it was a perfectly lunatic proceeding. Why, 
think! The only chance of our getting what we want 
is by winning over the men. 

(Her watchful eye, leaving her husband for a 
moment, catches Miss LEVERING'S little 
involuntary gesture.} 

What's the matter ? 

MlSS L. " Winning over the men " has been the 
woman's way for centuries. Do you think the result 
should make us proud of our policy ? Yes ? Then 
go and walk in Piccadilly at midnight. 

(The older women glance at JEAN.) 

No, I forgot 

MRS. H. (with majesty}. Yes, it's not the first time 
you've forgotten. 

MlSS L. I forgot the magistrate's ruling. He said 
no decent woman had any business to be in London's 
main thoroughfare at night unless she has a man 
with her. I heard that in Nine Elms, too. " You're 
obliged to take up with a chap ! " was what the woman 
said. 

MRS. H. (rising}. JEAN ! Come ! 

(She takes JEAN by her arm and draws her to 
the window, where she signals GREATOREX 
and FARNBOROUGH. MRS. FREDDY joins 
her husband and LORD JOHN.) 



44 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LADY JOHN (kindly, aside to Miss LEVERING). My 
dear, I think Lydia Heriot's right. We oughtn't to do 
anything or say anything to encourage this ferment of 
feminism, and I'll tell you why : it's likely to bring a 
very terrible thing in its train. 

MISS L. What terrible thing ? 

LADY JOHN. Sex antagonism. 

Miss L. (rising}. It's here. 

LADY JOHN (very gravely). Don't say that. 

(JEAN has quietly disengaged herself from MRS. 
HERIOT, and the group at the window 
returns and stands behind LADY JOHN, 
looking up into Miss LEVERING'S face.} 

Miss L. (to LADY JOHN). You're so conscious it's 
here, you're afraid to have it mentioned. 

LADY JOHN (turning and seeing JEAN. Rising 
hastily). If it's here, it is the fault of those women 
agitators. 

MISS L. (gently). No woman begins that way. 
(Leans forward with clasped hands looking into 
vacancy.) Every woman's in a state of natural sub- 
jection (smiles at JEAN) no, I'd rather say allegiance 
to her idea of romance and her hope of motherhood. 
They're embodied for her in man. They're the 
strongest things in life till man kills them. 

(Rousing herself and looking into LADY JOHN'S 
face.) 

Let's be fair. Each woman knows why that allegiance 
died. 

(LADY JOHN turns hastily, sees LORD JOHN com- 
ing down with MR. FREDDY and meets ttiem 
at the foot of the stairs. Miss LEVERING 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 45 

has turned to the table looking for her 
gloves, dec., among the papers ; unconsciously 
drops the handkerchief she had in her little 



JEAN (in a low voice to Miss LEVERING). All this 
talk against the wicked Suffragettes it makes me want 
to go and hear what they've got to say for themselves. 

Miss L. (smiling with a non-committal air as she 
finds the veil she's been searching for). Well, they're 
holding a meeting in Trafalgar Square at three o'clock. 

JEAN. This afternoon ? But that's no use to 
people out of town - Unless I could invent some 
excuse . . . 

LORD J. (benevolently). Still talking over the 
Shelter plans ? 

MlSS L. No. We left the Shelter some time ago. 

LORD J. (to JEAN). Then what's all the chatter- 
ment about ? 

(JEAN, a little confused, looks at Miss LEVERING.) 

MlSS L. The latest thing in veils. (Ties hers round 
her hat.) 

GREAT. The invincible frivolity of woman ! 

LORD J. (genially). Don't scold them. It's a very 
proper topic. 

Miss L. (tvhimsically). Oh, I was afraid you'd 
despise us for it. 

BOTH MEN (with condescension). Not at all not 
at all. 

JEAN (to Miss SEVERING as FOOTMAN appears). 
Oh, they're coming for you. Don't forget your book. 
(FOOTMAN holds out a salver with a telegram 

on it for JEAN.) 
Why, it's for me ! 



46 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MiSS L. But it's time I was 

(Crosses to table.) 

JEAN (opening the telegram). May I ? (Reads, and 
glances over the paper at Miss LEVERING.) I've 
got your book. (Crosses to Miss LEVERING, and, 
looking at the back of the volume} Dante ! Where- 
abouts are you ? (Opening at the marker.) Oh, the 
" Inferno." 

MiSS L. No ; I'm in a worse place. 

JEAN. I didn't know there was a worse. 

MiSS L. Yes ; it's worse with the Vigliacchi. 

JEAN. I forget. Were they Guelf or Ghibelline ? 

MiSS L. (smiling). They weren't either, and that was 
why Dante couldn't stand them. (More gravely.) He 
.said there was no place in Heaven nor in Purgatory 
not even a corner in Hell for the souls who had stood 
aloof from strife, (Looking steadily into the girl's 
eyes.) He called them " wretches who never lived," 
Dante did, because they'd never felt the pangs 
of partizanship. And so they wander homeless on 
the skirts of limbo among the abortions and off- 
scourings of Creation. 

JEAN (a long breath after a long look. When 
Miss LEVERING has turned away to make her 
leisurely adieux JEAN'S eyes fall on the open tele- 
gram). Aunt Ellen, I've got to go to London. 

(STONOR, re-entering, hears this, but pretends 
to talk to MR. FREDDY, <&c.) 

LADY JOHN. My dear child ! 
MRS. H. Nonsense ! Is your grandfather worse ? 
JEAN (folding the telegram). No-o. I don't think 
so. But it's necessary I should go, all the same. 
MRS. H. Go away when Mr. Stonor 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 47 

JEAN. He said he'd have to leave directly after 
luncheon. 

LADY JOHN. I'll just see Miss Levering off, and 
then I'll come back and talk about it. 

LORD J. (to Miss LEVERING). Why are you saying 
goodbye as if you were never coming back ? 

MlSS L. (smiling}. One never knows. Maybe I 
shan't come back. (To STONOR.) Goodbye. 

(STONOR bows ceremoniously. The others go 
up laughing. STONOR comes down.} 

JEAN (impulsively}. There mayn't be another 
train ! Miss Levering 

STONOR (standing in front of her}. What if 
there isn't ? I'll take you back in the motor. 

JEAN (rapturously}. Will yon ? (Inadvertently 
drops the telegram.} I must be there by three ! 

STONOR (picks up the telegram and a handkerchief 
lying near, glances at the message}. Why, it's only an 
invitation to dine Wednesday ! 

JEAN. Sh ! (Takes the telegram and puts it in her 
pocket.) 

STONOR. Oh, I see ! (Lower, smiling.} It's 
rather dear of you to arrange our going off like that. 
You are a clever little girl ! 

JEAN. It's not that I was arranging. I want to 
hear those women in Trafalgar Square the Suf- 
fragettes. 

STONOR (incredulous, but smiling}. How per- 
fectly absurd ! (Looking after LADY JOHN.) Besides, 
I expect she wouldn't like my carrying you off like 
that. 

JEAN. Then she'll have to make an excuse and 
come too. 



48 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

STONOR. Ah, it wouldn't be quite the same 

JEAN (rapidly thinking it out). "We could get back 
here in time for dinner. 

(GEOFFREY STONOR glances down at the hand- 
kerchief still in his hand, and turns it 
half mechanically from corner to corner.) 

JEAN (absent-mindedly}. Mine ? 
STONOR (hastily, without reflection). No. (Hands 
it to Miss LEVERING as she passes.) Yours. 

(Miss LEVERING, on her way to the lobby with 
LORD JOHN seems not to notice.) 

JEAN (takes the handkerchief to give to her, glancing 
down at the embroidered corner ; stops'). But that's not 
an L ! It's Vi ! 

(GEOFFREY STONOR suddenly turns his back 
and takes up the newspaper.) 

LADY JOHN (from the lobby). Come, Vida, since 
you will go. 

Miss L. Yes ; I'm coming. 

\Exit Miss LEVERING. 

JEAN. / didn't know her name was Vida ; how 
did you ? 

(STONOR stares silently over the top of his 
paper.) 



CURTAIN. 



ACT II 

SCENE : The north side of the Nelson Column in Tra- 
falgar Square. The Curtain rises on an uproar. 
The crowd, which momentarily increases, is com- 
posed chiefly of weedy youths and wastrel old men. 
There are a few decent artisans ; three or four 
" beery " out-o 1 -works ; three or four young women 
of the domestic servant or Strand restaurant 
cashier class; one aged woman in rusty black 
peering with faded, wondering eyes, consulting 
the faces of the men and laughing nervously and 
apologetically from time to time ; one or two quiet- 
looking, business-like women, thirty to forty ; two 
middle-class men, who stare and whisper and 
smile. A quiet old man with a lot of unsold 
Sunday papers under one arm stands in an atti- 
tude of rapt attention, with the free hand round 
his deaf ear. A brisk-looking woman of forty-five 
or so, wearing pince-nez, goes round with a pile of 
propagandist literature on her arm. Many of the 
men smoking cigarettes the old ones pipes. On 
the outskirts of this crowd, of several hundred, a 
couple of smart men in tall shining hats hover a 
few moments, single eyeglass up, and then saunter 
qff. Against the middle of the Column, where it 
rises above the stone platform, is a great red 
banner, one supporting pole upheld by a grimy 

E 49 



50 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

sandwichman, the other by a small, dirty boy of 
eight. If practicable only the lower portion of the 
banner need be seen, bearing the final words of the 
legend 

"VOTES FOR WOMEN!" 

in immense white letters. It will be well to get, to the 
full) the effect of the height above the crowd of the 
straggling group of speakers on the pedestal plat- 
form. These are, as the Curtain rises, a working- 
class woman who is waving her arms and talking 
very earnestly, her voice for the moment blurred 
in the uproar. She is dressed in brown serge and 
looks pinched and sallow. At her side is the 
CHAIEMAN urging that she be given a fair hear- 
ing. ALLEN TRENT is a tall, slim, brown-haired 
man of twenty-eight, with a slight stoop, an agree- 
able aspect, well-bred voice, and the gleaming brown 
eye of the visionary. Behind these two, looking on 
or talking among themselves, are several other 
carelessly dressed women ; one, better turned out 
than the rest, is quite young, very slight and 
gracefully built, with round, very pink cheeks, 
full, scarlet lips, naturally waving brown hair, 
and an air of childish gravity. She looks at the 
unruly mob with imperturbable calm. The 
CHAIRMAN'S voice is drowned.} 

WORKING WOMAN (with lean, brown finger out 
and voice raised shriller now above the tumult). I've 
got boys o' me own and we laugh at all sorts o' things, 
but I should be ashymed and so would they if ever 
they was to be'yve as you're doin' to-d'y. 

(In laughter the noise dies.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 51 

People 'ave been sayin' this is a middle-class woman's 
movement. It's a libel. I'm a workin' woman myself, 
the wife of a working man. ( Voice : " Pore devil ! ") 

I'm a Poor Law Guardian and a 

NOISY YOUNG MAN. Think of that, now gracious 
me ! 

(Laughter and interruption.') 

OLD NEWSVENDOR (to the noisy young man near 
him). Oh, shut up, cawn't yer ? 

NOISY YOUNG MAN. Not fur you ! 

VOICE. Go 'ome and darn yer old man's stockens ! 

VOICE. Just clean yer own doorstep ! 

WORKING WOMAN. It's a pore sort of 'ousekeeper 
that leaves 'er doorstep till Sunday afternoon. Maybe 
that's when you would do your doorstep. I do mine 
in the mornin' before you men are awake. 

OLD NEWSVENDOR. It's true, wot she says ! every 
word. 

WORKING WOMAN. You say we women 'ave got no 
business servin' on boards and thinkin' about politics. 
Wot's politics ? 

(A derisive roar.) 

It's just 'ousekeepin' on a big scyle. 'Oo among you 
workin' men 'as the most comfortable 'omes ? Those 
of you that gives yer wives yer wyges. 

(Loud laughter and jeers.) 

(That's it ! 
VOICES, j Wantin' our money. 

(Lord 'Igh 'Ousekeeper of England. 
WORKING WOMAN. If it wus only to use fur 
our comfort, d'ye think many o' you workin' men 
would be found turnin' over their wyges to their 



52 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

wives ? No ! Wot's the reason thousands do and 
the best and the soberest ? Because the workin' man 
knows that wot's a pound to 'im is twenty shillin's to 
'is wife. And she'll myke every penny in every one 
o' them shillin's tell. She gets more fur 'im out of 'is 
wyges than wot 'e can ! Some o' you know wot the 
'omes is like w'ere the men don't let the women 
manage. Well, the Poor Laws and the 'ole Govern- 
ment is just in the syme muddle because the men 'ave 
tried to do the national 'ousekeepin' without the 
women. 

(Roars.} 

But, like I told you before, it's a libel to say it's 
only the well-off women wot's wantin' the vote. 
Wot about the 96,000 textile workers ? Wot about 
the Yorkshire tailoresses ? I can tell you wot plenty 
o' the poor women think about it. I'm one of 
them, and I can tell you we see there's reforms 
needed. We ought to 'ave the vote (jeers}, and we 
know 'ow to appreciate the other women 'oo go 
to prison fur tryin' to get it fur us! 

(With a little final lob of emphasis and a glance 
over shoulder at the old woman and the 
young one behind her, she seems about to 
retire, but pauses as the murmur in the 
crowd grows into distinct phrases. " They 
get their 'air cut free." " Naow they don't, 
that's only us!" "Silly Suffragettes!" 
" Stop at 'ome ! " " 'Inderin' policemen 
mykin' rows in the streets ! ") 

VOICE (louder than the others}. They sees yer ain't 
fit t'ave 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 53 

OTHER VOICES. " Ha, ha ! " " Shut up ! " " Keep 
quiet, cawn't yer ? " (General uproar.} 

CHAIRMAN. You evidently don't know what had 
to be done by men before the extension of the Suffrage 
in '67. If it hadn't been for demonstrations of 

violence 

(His voice is drowned.) 

WORKING WOMAN (coming forward again, her 
shrill note rising clear). You s'y woman's plyce is 
'ome ! Don't you know there's a third of the women 
o' this country can't afford the luxury of stayin' in 
their 'omes ? They got to go out and 'elp make money 
to p'y the rent and keep the 'ome from bein' sold 
up. Then there's all the women that 'aven't got even 
miseerable 'omes. They 'aven't got any 'omes at all. 

NOISY YOUNG MAN. You said you got one. W'y 
don't you stop in it ? 

WORKING WOMAN. Yes, that's like a man. If one 
o' you is all right, he thinks the rest don't matter. We 
women 

NOISY YOUNG MAN. The lydies ! God bless 'em ! 

( Voices drown her and the CHAIRMAN.) 

OLD NEWSVENDOR (to NOISY YOUNG MAN). Oh, 
take that extra 'alf pint 'ome and sleep it off! 

WORKING WOMAN. P'r'aps your 'omes are all 
right. P'r'aps you aren't livin', old and young, married 
and single, in one room. I come from a plyce where 
many fam'lies 'ave to live like that if they're to go on 
livin' at all. If you don't believe me, come and let me 
show you f (She spreads out her lean arms.) Come 
with me to Canning Town ! come with me to Bromley 
come to Poplar and to Bow ! No. You won't even 
think about the overworked women and the underfed 



54 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

children and the 'ovels they live in. And you want 
that we shouldn't think neither 

A VAGRANT. We'll do the thinkin'. You go 'ome 
and nuss the byby. 

WORKING WOMAN. I do nurse my byby ! I've 
nursed seven. What 'ave you done for yours ? P'r'aps 
your children never goes 'ungry, and maybe you're 
satisfied though I must say I wouldn't a' thought it 
from the look o' you. 

VOICE. Oh, I s'y ! 

WORKING WOMAN. But we women are not satisfied. 
We don't only want better things for our own children. 
We want better things for all. Every child is our 
child. We know in our 'earts we oughtn't to rest till 
we've mothered 'em every one. 

VOICE. "Women" "children" wot about the 
men ? Are they all 'appy ? 

(Derisive laughter and " No ! no ! " " Not 
precisely." " 'Appy ? Lord ! ") 

WORKING WOMAN. No, there's lots o' you men I'm 
sorry for (Shrill Voice : " Thanks awfully ! "), an' we'll 
'elp you if you let us. 

VOICE. 'Elp us ? You tyke the bread out of our 
mouths. You women are black-leggin' the men ! 

WORKING WOMAN. Wy does any woman tyke less 
wyges than a man for the same work ? Only because 
we can't get anything better. That's part the reason 
w'y we're yere to-d'y. Do you reely think we tyke 
them there low wyges because we got a lykiri 1 for low 
wyges ? No. We're just like you. We want as much 
as ever we can get. (" 'Ear ! 'Ear ! " and laughter.} We 
got a gryte deal to do with our wyges, we women has. 
We got the children to think about. And w'en we get 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 55 

our rights, a woman's flesh and blood won't be so much 
cheaper than a man's that employers can get rich on 
keepin' you out o' work, and sweatin' us. If you men 
only could see it, we got the syme cause, and if you 
'elped us you'd be 'elpin yerselves. 

VOICES. " Rot ! " " Drivel." 

OLD NEWSVENDOR. True as gospel ! 

(She retires against the banner with the others. 
There is some applause.} 

A MAN (patronisingly}. Well, now, that wusn't 
so bad fur a woman. 

ANOTHER. N-naw. Not fur a woman. 

CHAIRMAN (speaking through this last}. Miss 
Ernestine Blunt will now address you. 

(Applause, chieHy ironic, laughter, a general 
moving closer and knitting up of attention. 
ERNESTINE BLUNT is about twenty-four, 
but looks younger. She is very downright, 
not to say pugnacious the something amus- 
ing and attractive about her is there, as it 
were, against her will, and the more fetch- 
ing for that. She has no conventional 
gestures, and none of any sort at first. As 
she warms to her work she uses her slim 
hands to enforce her emphasis, but as 
though unconsciously. Her manner of 
speech is less monotonous than that of the 
average woman-speaker, but she, too, has 
a fashion of leaning all her weight on the 
end of the sentence. She brings out the final 
word or two with an effort of underscoring, 
and makes a forward motion of the slim 
body as if the better to drive the last nail in. 



56 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

She evidently means to be immensely prac- 
tical the kind who is pleased to think she 
hasn't a grain of sentimentality in her 
composition) and whose feeling, when it 
does all but master her, communicates 
itself magnetically to others.) 

Miss ERNESTINE BLUNT. Perhaps I'd better begin 
by explaining a little about our " tactics." 

(Cries of " Tactics ! We know ! " " Mykin' 
trouble ! " " Public scandal ! ") 

To make you understand what we've done, I must 
remind you of what others have done. Perhaps you 
don't know that women first petitioned Parliament 
for the Franchise as long ago as 1866. 
VOICE. How do you know ? 

(She pauses a moment, taken off her guard by 
the suddenness of the attack.) 

VOICE. You wasn't there ! 

VOICE. That was the trouble. Haw ! haw ! 

MlSS E. B. And the petition was presented 

VOICE. Give 'er a 'earin' now she 'as got out of 'er 
cry die. 

MlSS E. B. presented to the House of Commons by 
that great Liberal, John Stuart Mill. ( Voice : " Mill ? 
Who is he when he's at home ? " ) Bills or Resolutions 
have been before the House on and off for the last 
thirty-six years. That, roughly, is our history. We 
found ourselves, towards the close of the year 1905, 
with no assurance that if we went on in the same way 
any girl born into the world in this generation would 
live to exercise the rights of citizenship, though she 
lived to be a hundred. So we said all this has been in 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 57 

vain. We must try some other way. How did the 
working man get the Suffrage, we asked ourselves ? 
Well, we turned up the records, and we saw 

VOICES. " Not by scratching people's faces ! " . . . 
" Disraeli give it 'em ! " " Dizzy ? Get out ! " 
" Cahnty Cahncil scholarships ! " " Oh, Lord, this 
education ! " " Chartist riots, she's thinkin' of ! " 
(Noise in the crowd.} 

MiSS E. B. But we don't want to follow such a 
violent example. We would much rather not but if 
that's the only way we can make the country see 
we're in earnest, we are prepared to show them. 

VOICE. An' they'll show you ! Give you another 
month 'ard. 

MISS E. B. Don't think that going to prison has 
any fears for us. We'd go for life if by doing that we 
could get freedom for the rest of the women. 

VOICES. " Hear, hear ! " " Rot 1 " " W'y don't 
the men 'elp ye to get your rights ? " 

MISS E. B. Here's some one asking why the men 
don't help. It's partly they don't understand yet 
they will before we've done ! (Laughter.') Partly 
they don't understand yet what's at stake 

RESPECTABLE OLD MAN (chuckling}. Lord, they're 
a 'educatin' of us ! 

VOICE. Wot next ? 

Miss E. B. and partly that the bravest man is 
afraid of ridicule. Oh, yes ; we've heard a great deal 
all our lives about the timidity and the sensitiveness 
of women. And it's true. We are sensitive. But A 
I tell you, ridicule crumples a man up. It steels a - 
woman. We've come to know the value of ridicule. ' \ 
We've educated ourselves so that we welcome ridicule. 
We owe our sincerest thanks to the comic writers. 



58 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

The cartoonist is our unconscious friend. Who car- 
toons people who are of no importance ? What 
advertisement is so sure of being remembered ? 

POETIC YOUNG MAN. I admit that. 

MlSS E. B. If we didn't know it by any other sign, 
the comic papers would tell us we've arrived! But 
our greatest debt of gratitude we owe, to the man who 
called us female hooligans. 

(The crowd bursts into laughter.} 
We aren't hooligans, but we hope the fact will be over- 
looked. If everybody said we were nice, well-behaved 
women, who'd come to hear us ? Not the men. 
(Roars.) 

Men tell us it isn't womanly for us to care about poli- 
tics. How do they know what's womanly ? It's for 
women to decide that. Let the men attend to being 
manly. It will take them all their time. 

VOICE. Are we down-'earted ? Oh no ! 

MlSS E. B. And they say it would be dreadful if 
we got the vote, because then we'd be pitted against 
men in the economic struggle. But that's come about 
already. Do you know that out of every hundred 
women in this country eighty-two are wage-earning 
women ? It used to be thought unfeminine for women 
to be students and to aspire to the arts that bring 
fame and fortune. But nobody has ever said it was 
unfeminine for women to do the heavy drudgery 
that's badly paid. That kind of work had to be done 
by somebody and the men didn't hanker after it. 
Oh, no. 

(Laughter and interruption.) 

A MAN ON THE OUTER FRINGE. She can talk 
the little one can. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 59 

ANOTHER. Oh, they can all " talk." 

A BEERY, DIRTY FELLOW OP FIFTY. I wouldn't 
like to be 'er 'usban'. Think o' comin' 'ome to 
that ! 

HIS PAL. I'd soon learn 'er ! 

MiSS E. B. (speaking through the noise). Oh, no ! 
Let the women scrub and cook and wash. That's all 
right ! But if they want to try their hand at the 
better paid work of the liberal professions oh, very 
unfeminine indeed ! Then there's another thing. 
Now I want you to listen to this, because it's very 
important. Men say if we persist in competing with 
them for the bigger prizes, they're dreadfully afraid 
we'd lose the beautiful protecting chivalry that 
Yes, I don't wonder you laugh. We laugh. (Bending 
forward with lit eyes.} But the women I found at 
the Ferry Tin "Works working for five shillings a week 
I didn't see them laughing. The beautiful chivalry 
of the employers of women doesn't prevent them from 
paying women tenpence a day for sorting coal and 
loading and unloading carts doesn't prevent them 
from forcing women to earn bread in ways worse 
still. So we won't talk about chivalry. It's being 
over-sarcastic. We'll just let this poor ghost of 
chivalry go in exchange for a little plain justice. 

VOICE. If the House of Commons won't give you 
justice, why don't you go to the House of Lords ? 

MiSS E. B. What ? 

VOICE. Better 'urry up. Case of early closin'. 

(Laughter. A man at the lack asks the speaker 
something.} 

MiSS E. B. (unable to hear). You'll be allowed to 
ask any question you like at the end of the meeting. 



60 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

NEW-COMER (boy of eighteen). Oh, is it question 
time ? I s'y, Miss, 'oo killed cock robin ? 

(She is about to resume, but above the general 
noise the voice of a man at the back reaches 
her indistinct but insistent. She leans for- 
ward trying to catch what he says. While 
the indistinguishable murmur has been 
going on GEOFFREY STONOR has appeared 
on the edge of the crowd, followed by JEAN 
and LADY JOHN in motor veils.} 

JEAN (pressing for war d\ eagerly and raising her 
veil). Is she one of them ? That little thing ! 

STONOR (doubtfully). I I suppose so. 

JEAN. Oh, ask some one, Geoffrey. I'm so disap- 
pointed. I did so hope we'd hear one of the the 
worst. 

MlSS E. B. (to the interrupter on the other side). 
What ? What do you say ? (She screws up her eyes 
with the effort to hear, and puts a hand up to her 
ear. A few indistinguishable words between her and 
the man.) 

LADY JOHN (who has been studying the figures on 
the platform through her lorgnon, turns to a working 
man beside her). Can you tell me, my man, which 
are the ones that a that make the disturbances ? 

WORKING MAN. The one that's doing the talking 
she's the disturbingest o' the lot. 

JEAN (craning to listen). Not that nice little 

WORKING MAN. Don't you be took in, Miss. 

MlSS E. B. Oh, yes I see. There's a man over 
here asking 

A YOUNG MAN. Tve got a question, too. Are 
you married ? 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 61 

ANOTHER (sniggering). Quick ! There's yer 
chawnce. 'E's a bachelor. 

{Laughter.} 

Miss E. B. (goes straight on as if she had not heard) 
man asking : if the women get full citizenship, and 
a war is declared, will the women fight ? 

POETIC YOUNG MAN. No, really no, really, 
now ! 

(The Crowd : " Haw ! Haw ! " " Yes I " " Yes, 
how about that ? ") 

MlSS E. B. (smiling). Well, you know, some people 
say the whole trouble about us is that we do fight. 
But it is only hard necessity makes us do that. We 
don't want to fight as men seem to just for fighting's 
sake. Women are for peace. 

VOICE. Hear, hear. 

MlSS E. B. And when we have a share in public 
affairs there'll be less likelihood of war. But that's 
not to say women can't fight. The Boer women did. 
The Russian women face conflicts worse than any 
battlefield can show. (Her voice shakes a little, and 
the eyes fill, but she controls her emotion gallantly, and 
dashes on.) But we women know all that is evil, and 
we're for peace. Our part we're proud to remember 
it our part has been to go about after you men in 
war-time, and -pick up the pieces ! 

(A great shout.} 

Yes seems funny, doesn't it ? You men blow them 
to bits, and then we come along and put them together 
again. If you know anything about military nursing, 
you know a good deal of our work has been done in 
the face of danger but it's always been done. 



62 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

OLD NEWSVENDOR. That's so. That's so. 

MlSS E. B. You complain that more and more 
we're taking away from you men the work that's 
always been yours. You can't any longer keep women 
out of the industries. The only question is upon what 
terms shall she continue to be in ? As long as she's in 
on bad terms, she's not only hurting herself she's 
hurting you. But if you're feeling discouraged about 
our competing with you, we're willing to leave you 

ryour trade in war. Let the men take life ! We give 
life ! {Her voice is once more moved and proud.} No 
one will pretend ours isn't one of the dangerous trades 
either. I won't say any more to you now, because 
we've got others to speak to you, and a new woman- 
helper that I want you to hear. 

(She retires to the sound of clapping. There's a 
hurried consultation between her and the 
CHAIRMAN. Voices in the Crowd : " The 
little 'un's all right " " Ernestine's a 
corker," &c.) 

JEAN (looking at STONOR to see how he's taken 
it). Well ? 

STONOR (smiling down at her). Well 

JEAN. Nothing reprehensible in what she said, was 
there ? 

STONOR (shrugs). Oh, reprehensible ! 

JEAN. It makes me rather miserable all the same. 

STONOR (draws her hand protectingly through his 
arm). You mustn't take it as much to heart as all 
that. 

JEAN. I can't help it I can't indeed, Geoffrey. I 
shall never be able to make a speech like that ! 

STONOR (taken aback). I hope not, indeed. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 63 

JEAN. Why, I thought you said you wanted 
me ? 

STONOR (smiling}. To make nice little speeches 

with composure so I did ! So I (Seems to lose 

his thread as he looks at her.} 

JEAN (with a little frown). You said 

STONOR. That you have very pink cheeks ? Well, 
I stick to that. 

JEAN (smiling}. Sh ! Don't tell everybody. 

STONOR. And you're the only female creature I 
ever saw who didn't look a fright in motor things. 

JEAN (melted and smiling}. I'm glad you don't 
think me a fright. 

CHAIRMAN. I will now ask (name indistinguish- 
able} to address the meeting. 

JEAN (as she sees LADY JOHN moving to one side}. 
Oh, don't go yet, Aunt Ellen ! 

LADY JOHN. Go ? Certainly not. I want to hear 
another. (Craning her neck.} I can't believe, you 
know, she was really one of the worst. 

(A big, sallow Cockney has come forward. His 
scanty hair grows in wisps on a great bony 
skull.) 

VOICE. That's Pilcher. 

ANOTHER. 'Oo's Pilcher ? 

ANOTHER. If you can't afford a bottle of Tatcho, 
w'y don't you get yer 'air cut. 

MR. P. (not in the least discomposed). I've been 
addressin' a big meetin' at 'Ammersmith this morning, 
and w'en I told 'em I wus comin' 'ere this awfternoon 
to speak fur the women well then the usual thing 
began I 

(An appreciative roar from the crowd.) 



64 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

In these times if you want peace and quiet at a public 
meetin' 

(TJie crowd fills in the hiatus with laughter.} 

There was a man at 'Ammersmith, too, talkin' about 
women's sphere bein' 'ome. 'Ome do you call it ? 
You've got a kennel w'ere you can munch your tommy. 
You've got a corner w'ere you can curl up fur a few 
hours till you go out to work again. No, my man, 
there's too many of you ain't able to give the women 
'omes fit to live in, too many of you in that fix fur 
you to go on jawin' at those o' the women 'oo want to 
myke the 'omes a little decenter. 

VOICE. If the vote ain't done us any good, 'ow'll it 
do the women any good ? 

MR. P. Look 'ere ! Any men here belongin' to the 
Labour Party ? 

{Shouts and applause.) 

Well, I don't need to tell these men the vote 'as done 
us some good. They know it. And it'll do us a lot 
more good w'en you know 'ow to use the power you 
got in your 'and. 

VOICE. Power ! It's those fellers at the bottom o' 
the street that's got the power. 

MB. P. It's you, and men like you, that gave it to 
'em. You carried the Liberals into Parliament Street 
on your own shoulders. 

(Complacent applause.) 

You believed all their fine words. You never asked 
yourselves, " Wot's a Liberal, anyw'y ? " 
A VOICE. He's a jolly good fellow. 

(Cheers and booing.') 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 65 

ME. P. No, 'e ain't, or if 'e is jolly, it's only because 
'e thinks you're such silly codfish you'll go swellin' his 
majority again. {Laughter ', in which STONOR joins.) 
It's enough to make any Liberal jolly to see sheep like 
you lookin' on, proud and 'appy, while you see Liberal 
leaders desertin' Liberal principles. 

( Voices in agreement and protest.") 

You show me a Liberal, and I'll show you a Mr. 
Fycing-both-W'ys. Yuss. 

(STONOR moves closer with an amused look.) 

'E sheds the light of 'is warm and 'andsome smile on 
the working man, and round on the other side 'e's 
tippin' a wink to the great land-owners. That's to let 
'em know 'e's standin' between them and the Socialists. 
Huh ! Socialists. Yuss, Socialists ! 

(General laughter, in which STONOR joins.} 

The Liberal, e's the judicial sort o' chap that sits in the 
middle 

VOICE. On the fence ! 

MR. P. Tories one side Socialists the other. Well 
it ain't always so comfortable in the middle. You're 
like to get squeezed. Now, I s'y to the women, the 
Conservatives don't promise you much but what they 
promise they do I 

STONOR (to JEAN). This fellow isn't half bad. 

MR. P. The Liberals they'll promise you the 
earth, and give yer . . . the whole o' nothing. 

(Roars of approval.) 

JEAN. Isn't it fun ? Now, aren't you glad I brought 
you? 

STONOR (laughing). This chap's rather amusing ! 



66 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MB. P. We men 'ave seen it 'appen over and over. 
But the women can tyke a 'int quicker'n what we can. 
They won't Btand the nonsense men do. Only they 
'aven't got a fair chawnce even to agitate fur their 
rights. As I wus comin' up 'ere I 'eard a man sayin', 
" Look at this big crowd. W'y, we're all men ! If the 
women want the vote w'y ain't they 'ere to s'y so ? " 
Well, I'll tell you w'y. It's because they've 'ad to get 
the dinner fur you and me, and now they're washin' 
up the dishes. 

A VOICE. D'you think we ought to st'y 'ome and 
wash the dishes ? 

MR. P. (laughs good-naturedly). If they'd leave it 
to us once or twice per'aps we'd understand a little 
more about the Woman Question. I know w'y my 
wife isn't here. It's because she knows I ain't much 
use round the 'ouse, and she's 'opin' I can talk to some 
purpose. Maybe she's mistaken. Any'ow, here I am 
to vote for her and all the other women. 

(" Hear ! hear ! " "Oh-h!") 

And to tell you men what improvements you can ex- 
pect to see when women 'as the share in public affairs 
they ought to 'ave ! 

VOICE. What do you know about it ? You can't 
even talk grammar. 

MR. P. (is dashed a fraction of a moment, for the 
first and only time}. I'm not 'ere to talk grammar 
but to talk Reform. I ain't defendin' my grammar 
but I'll say in pawssing that if my mother 'ad 'ad 'er 
rights, maybe my grammar would have been better. 

(STONOR and JEAN exchange smiles. He takes 
her arm again and bends his head to 
whisper something in her ear. She listens 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 67 

with lowered eyes and happy face. The 
discreet love-making goes on during the 
next few sentences. Interruption. One 
voice insistent but not clear. The speaker 
waits only a second and then resumes. 
"Fes, if the women" but he cannot in- 
stantly make himself heard. The boyish 
CHAIRMAN looks harassed and anxious. 
Miss ERNESTINE BLUNT alert, watchful.} 

MR. P. Wait a bit 'arf a minute, imy man ! 

VOICE. 'Oo yer talkin' to ? I ain't your man. 

MR. P. Lucky for me ! There seems to be a 
gentleman 'ere who doesn't think women ought to 
'ave the vote. 

VOICE. One? Oh-h ! 

{Laughter.) 

MR. P. Per'aps 'e doesn't iknow much about 
women ? 

(Indistinguishable repartee.) 

Oh, the gentleman says Vs married. Well, then, fur 
the syke of 'is wife we musn't be too sorry Vs 'ere. 
No doubt she's s'ying : " 'Eaven by prysed those 
women are mykin' a Demonstrytion in Trafalgar 
Square, and I'll 'ave a little peace and quiet at 'ome 
for one Sunday in my life." 

(The crowd laughs and there are jeers for the 
interrupter and at the speaker.) 

(Pointing.) Why, you're like the man at 'Ammersmith 
this morning. 'E was awskin' me : " 'Ow would you 
like men to st'y at 'ome and do the fam'ly washin' ? " 

(Laughter.) 



68 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

I told 'im I wouldn't advise it. I 'ave too much 
respect fur me clo'es. 

VAGRANT. It's their place the women ought to do 
the washin'. 

MR. P. I'm not sure you ain't right. For a good 
many o' you fellas, from the look o' you you cawn't 
even wash yerselves. 

(Laughter.) 
VOICE (threatening). 'Oo are you talkin' to ? 

(Chairman more anxious than before move- 
ment in the crowd.) 

THREATENING VOICE. Which of us d'you mean ? 

MR. P. (coolly looking down.) Well, it takes about 
ten of your sort to myke a man, so you may take it I 
mean the lot of you. 

(Angry indistinguishable retorts and the crowd 
sways. Miss ERNESTINE BLUNT, who has 
been watching the fray with serious face, 
turns suddenly, catching sight of some one 
just arrived at the end of the platform. 
Miss BLUNT goes R. with alacrity, 
saying audibly to PILCHER as she passes, 
"Here she is" and proceeds to offer her 
hand helping some one to get up the im- 
provised steps. Laughter and interruption 
in the crowd.) 

LADY JOHN. Now, there's another woman going to 
speak. 

JEAN. Oh, is she ? Who ? Which ? I do hope 
she'll be one of the wild ones. 

MR. P. (speaking through this last. Glancing at 
the new arrival whose hat appears above the platform 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 69 

B.). That's all right, then. (Turns to the left.) When 
I've attended to this microbe that's vitiating the air on 

my right 

{Laughter and interruptions from the crowd.) 

STONOR (staring R., one dazed instant, at the face 
of the new arrival, his own changes). 

(JEAN withdraws her arm from his and quite 
suddenly presses a shade nearer the plat- 
form. STONOR moves forward and takes 
her by the arm.) 

We're going now. 

JEAN. Not yet oh, please not yet. (Breathless, 
looking back.) Why I I do believe 

STONOR (to LADY JOHN, with decision). I'm going 
to take JEAN out of this mob. Will you come ? 

LADY JOHN. What ? Oh yes, if you think 

(Another look through her glasses.) But isn't that 
surely its ! ! ! 

(ViDA LEVERING comes forward R. She 
wears a long, plain, dark green dust- 
cloak. Stands talking to ERNESTINE BLUNT 
and glancing a little apprehensively at the 
crowd.) 

JEAN. Geoffrey I 

STONOR (trying to draw JEAN away). Lady John's 
tired 

JEAN. But you don't see who it is, Geoffrey ! 

(Looks into his face, and is arrested by the look she 
finds there.) 

(LADY JOHN has pushed in front of them 
amazed, transfixed, with glass up. GEOF- 
FREY STONOR restrains a gesture of annoy- 



70 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

ance, and withdraws behind two big police- 
men. JEAN from time to time turns to look 
at him with a face of perplexity.) 

MR. P. (resuming through a fire of indistinct in- 
terruption}. I'll come down and attend to that microbe 
while a lady will say a few words to you (raises his 
voice) if she can myke 'erself 'eard. 
(PiLCHBR retires in the midst of booing and cheers.} 

CHAIRMAN (harassed and trying to create a diver- 
sion). Some one suggests and it's such a good idea 
I'd like you to listen to it 

(Noise dies down.) 

that a clause shall be inserted in the next Suf- 
frage Bill that shall expressly reserve to each Cabinet 
Minister, and to any respectable man, the power to 
prevent the Franchise being given to the female 
members of his family on his public declaration of 
their lack of sufficient intelligence to entitle them 
to vote. 

VOICES. Oh! oh! 

CHAIRMAN. Now, I ask you to listen, as quietly as 
you can, to a lady who is not accustomed to speaking 
a in Trafalgar Square or a ... as a matter of fact, 
at all. 

VOICES. " A dumb lady." " Hooray ! " " Three 
cheers for the dumb lady ! " 

CHAIRMAN. A lady who, as I've said, will tell you, 
if you'll behave yourselves, her impressions of the 
administration of police-court justice in this country. 

(JEAN looks wondering at STONOR'S sphinx-like 
face as VIDA LEVERING comes to the edge of 
the platform.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 71 

MlSS L. Mr. Chairman, men and women 

VOICES (off}. Speak up. 

(She flushes, comes quite to the edge of the 

platform and raises fier voice a little.') 
MlSS L. I just wanted to tell you that I was 
I was present in the police-court when the women 
were charged for creating a disturbance. 

VOICE. Y' oughtn't t' get mixed up in wot didn't 
concern you. 

Miss L. I I (Stumbles and stops.) 

(Talking and laughing increases. "Wot's 'er 
name ? " " Mrs. or Miss ? " " Ain't seen 
this one before.") 
CHAIRMAN (anxiously). Now, see here, men ; don't 

interrupt 

A GlRL (shrilly). I like this one's 'at. Ye can see 
she ain't one of 'em. 

Miss L. (trying to recommence). I 

VOICE. They're a disgrace them women be'ind 
yer. 

A MAN WITH A FATHERLY AIR. It's the w'y they 
goes on as mykes the Government keep ye from gettin' 
yer rights. 
CHAIRMAN (losing his temper). It's the way you go 

on that 

(Noise increases. CHAIRMAN drowned, waves 
his arms and moves his lips. MlSS 
LEVERING discouraged, turns and looks 
at ERNESTINE BLUNT and pantomimes 
"It's no good. I can't go on." ERNES- 
TINE BLUNT comes forward, says a word 
to the CHAIRMAN, who ceases gyrating, 
and nods.) 



72 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS E. B. (facing the crowd). Look here. If the 
Government withhold the vote because they don't like 
the way some of us ask for it let them give it to the 
Quiet Ones. Does the Government want to punish all 
women because they don't like the manners of a hand- 
ful ? Perhaps that's you men's notion of justice. It 
isn't women's. 

VOICES. Haw ! haw ! 

MlSS L. Yes. Th-this is the first time I've ever 
" gone on," as you call it, but they never gave me a 
vote. 

MlSS E. B. (with energy}. No ! And there are 
one two three four women on this platform. Now, 
we all want the vote, as you know. Well, we'd agree 
to be disfranchised all our lives, if they'd give the vote 
to all the other women. 

VOICE. Look here, you made one speech, give the 
lady a chawnce. 

MlSS E. B. (retires smiling). That's just what I 
wanted you to do ! 

MlSS L. Perhaps you you don't know you 
don't know 

VOICE (sarcastic). 'Ow 're we goin' to know if you 
can't tell us ? 

MlSS L. (flushing and smiling). Thank you for 
that. We couldn't have a better motto. How are you 
to know if we can't somehow manage to tell you ? 
( With a visible effort she goes on.) Well, I certainly 
didn't know before that the sergeants and policemen 
are instructed to deceive the people as to the time such 
cases are heard. You ask, and you're sent to Marl- 
borough Police Court instead of to Marylebone. 

VOICE. They ought ter sent yer to 'Olloway do y' 
good. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 73 

OLD NEWSVENDOR. You go on, Miss, don't mind 
'im. 

VOICE. Wot d'you expect from a pig but a grunt ? 

Miss L. You're told the case will be at two 
o'clock, and it's really called for eleven. Well, I took 
a great deal of trouble, and I didn't believe what I was 
told 

( Warming a little to her task.) 

Yes, that's almost the first thing we have to learn to 
get over our touching faith that, because a man tells us 
something, it's true. I got to the right court, and I 
was so anxious not to be late, I was too early. The 
case before the Women's was just coming on. I heard 
a noise. At the door I saw the helmets of two police- 
men, and I said to myself : " What sort of crime shall I 
have to sit and hear about ? Is this a burglar coming 
along between the two big policemen, or will it be a 
murderer ? What sort of felon is to stand in the dock 
before the women whose crime is they ask for the 
vote ? " But, try as I would, I couldn't see the prisoner. 
My heart misgave me. Is it a woman, I wondered ? 
Then the policemen got nearer, and I saw (she waits 
an instant) a little, thin, half -starved boy. What do 
you think he was charged with ? Stealing. What had 
he been stealing that small criminal ? Milk. It 
seemed to me as I sat there looking on, that the men 
who had the affairs of the world in their hands from 
the beginning, and who've made so poor a business 
of it 

VOICES. Oh ! oh ! Pore benighted man ! Are we 
down-'earted ? Oh, no ! 

MlSS L. so poor a business of it as to have the 
poor and the unemployed in the condition they' e in 
to-day when your only remedy for a starving child 



74 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

is to hale him off to the police-court because he had 
managed to get a little milk well, I did wonder that 
the men refuse to be helped with a problem they've so 
notoriously failed at. I began to say to myself : " Isn't 
it time the women lent a hand ? " 

A VOICE. Would you have women magistrates ? 

(She is stumped by the suddenness of the demand.) 

VOICES. Haw ! Haw ! Magistrates ! 

ANOTHEE. Women ! Let 'em prove first they 
deserve 

A SHABBY ART STUDENT (his hair longish, soft hat, 
and flowing tie). They study music by thousands ; 
where's their Beethoven ? Where's their Plato ? 
Where's the woman Shakespeare ? 

ANOTHER. Yes what 'a' they ever done ? 

(The speaker clenches her hands, and is recover- 
ing her presence of mind, so that by the time 
the CHAIRMAN can make himself heard 
with, "Now men, give this lady a fair 
hearing don't interrupt " she, with tfie 
slightest of gestures, waves him aside with 
a low " It's all right") 

Miss L. (steadying and raising her voice). These 
questions are quite proper ! They are often asked 
elsewhere ; and I would like to ask in return : Since 
when was human society held to exist for its handful 
of geniuses ? How many Platos are there here in this 
crowd ? 

A VOICE (very loud and shrill). Divil a wan ! 

(Laughter.) 

MlSS L. Not one. Yet that doesn't keep you 
men off the register. How many Shakespeares are 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 75 

there in all England to-day ? Not one. Yet the State 
doesn't tumble to pieces. Railroads and ships are built 
homes are kept going, and babies are born. The 
world goes on ! (bending over the crowd} It goes on 
by virtue of its common people. 

VOICES (subdued}. Hear ! hear ! 

MlSS L. I am not concerned that you should 
think we women can paint great pictures, or compose 
immortal music, or write good books. I am content 
that we should be classed with the common people 
who keep the world going. But (straightening up 
and taking a fresh start), I'd like the world to go 
a great deal better. We were talking about justice. I 
have been inquiring into the kind of lodging the 
poorest class of homeless women can get in this town 
of London. I find that only the men of that class are 
provided for. Some measure to establish Rowton 
Houses for women has been before the London 
County Council. They looked into the question 
" very carefully," so their apologists say. And what 
did they decide ? They decided that they could do 
nothing. 

LADY JOHN (having forced her way to STONOR'S 
side). Is that true ? 

STONOB (speaking through MlSS LEVERING'S next 
words). I don't know. 

MlSS L. Why could that great, all-powerful body 
do nothing ? Because, if these cheap and decent 
houses were opened, they said, the homeless women 
in the streets would make use of them ! You'll 
think I'm not in earnest. But that was actually the 
decision and the reason given for it. Women that the 
bitter struggle for existence has forced into a life of 
horror 



76 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

STONOR (sternly to LADY JOHN). You think this 

is the kind of thing (A motion of the head towards 

JEAN.) 

Miss L. the outcast women might take ad- 
vantage of the shelter these decent, cheap places 
offered. But the men, I said ! Are all who avail 
themselves of Lord Rowton's hostels, are they all 
angels ? Or does wrong-doing in a man not matter ? 
Yet women are recommended to depend on the chivalry 
of men. 

(The two policemen, who at first had been stroll- 
ing about, have stood during this scene in 
front of GEOFFREY STONOR. They turn 
now and walk away, leaving STONOR 
exposed. He, embarrassed, moves uneasily, 
and VIDA LEVERING'S eye falls upon his 
big figure. He still has the collar of his 
motor coat turned up to his ears. A change 
passes over her face, and her nerve fails her 
an instant.} 

MISS L. Justice and chivalry ! ! (she steadies 
her voice and hurries on) they both remind me of 
what those of you who read the police-court 
news (I have begun only lately to do that) but 
you've seen the accounts of the girl who's been tried 
in Manchester lately for the murder of her child. Not 
pleasant reading. Even if we'd noticed it, we wouldn't 
speak of it in my world. A few months ago I should 
have turned away my eyes and forgotten even the 
headline as quickly as I could. But since that morn- 
ing in the police-court, I read these things. This, 
as you'll remember, was about a little working girl 
an orphan of eighteen who crawled with the dead 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 77 

body of her new-born child to her master's back-door, 
and left the baby there. She dragged herself a little 
way off and fainted. A few days later she found her- 
self in court, being tried for the murder of her child. 
Her master a married man had of course reported the 
" find " at his back-door to the police, and he had been 
summoned to give evidence. The girl cried out to 
him in the open court, " You are the father ! " He 
couldn't deny it. The Coroner at the jury's request 
censured the man, and regretted that the law didn't 
make him responsible. But he went scot-free. And 
that girl is now serving her sentence in Strangeways 
Gaol. 

{Murmuring and scraps of indistinguishable 

comment in the crowd, through which 

only JEAN'S voice is clear.} 

JEAN (who has wormed her way to STONOR'S side}. 

Why do you dislike her so ? 

STONOR. I ? Why should you think 

JEAN (with a vaguely frightened air). I never saw 

you look as you did as you do. 

CHAIRMAN. Order, please give the lady a fair 

Miss L. (signing to him " Ifs all right"}. Men 

make boast that an English citizen is tried by his peers. 

What woman is tried by hers ? 

(A sombre passion strengthens her voice and 
hurries her on.} 

A woman is arrested by a man, brought before a man 
judge, tried by a jury of men, condemned by men, 
taken to prison by a man, and by a man she's hanged ! 
Where in all this were her " peers " ? Why did men 
so long ago insist on trial by " a jury of their peers " ? 
So that justice shouldn't miscarry wasn't it ? A 



78 VOTES FOR WOMEN 



man's peers would best understand his circumstances, 
his temptation, the degree of his guilt. Yet there's no 
such unlikeness between different classes of men as 
exists between man and woman. What man has the 
knowledge that makes him a fit judge of woman's 
deeds at that time of anguish that hour (lowers her 
voice and bends over the crowd) that hour that some 
woman struggled through to put each man here into 
the world. I noticed when a previous speaker quoted 
the Labour Party you applauded. Some of you here 
I gather call yourselves Labour men. Every woman 
who has borne a child is a Labour woman. No man 
among you can judge what she goes through in her 
hour of darkness 

JEAN {with frightened eyes on her lover's set, white 
face, whispers}. Geoffrey 

Miss L (catching her fluttering breath, goes on very 
low} in that great agony when, even under the best 
conditions that money and devotion can buy, many a 
woman falls into temporary mania, and not a few go 
down to death. In the case of this poor little abandoned 
working girl, what man can be the fit judge of her 
deeds in that awful moment of half-crazed temptation ? 
Women know of these things as those know burning 
who have walked through fire. 

(STONOB makes a motion towards JEAN and she 
turns away fronting the audience. Her 
hands go up to her throat as though she 
suffered a choking sensation. It is in her 
face that she "knows." Miss LEVERING 
leans over the platform and speaks with a 
low and thrilling earnestness.} 

I would say in conclusion to the women here, it's not 




VOTES FOR WOMEN 79 

enough to be sorry for these our unfortunate sisters. 
We must get the conditions of life made fairer. We 
women must organise. We must learn to work to- 
gether. We have all (rich and poor, happy and 
unhappy) worked so long and so exclusively for 
men, we hardly know how to work for one another. 
But we must learn. Those who can, may give 
money 

VOICES (grumbling}. Oh, yes Money ! Money ! 

MISS L. Those who haven't pennies to give even 
those people aren't so poor they can't give some part 
of their labour some share of their sympathy and 
support. 

(Turns to hear something the CHAIBMAN is 
whispering to her.} 

JEAN (low to LADY JOHN). Oh, I'm glad I've got 
power ! 

LADY JOHN (bewildered). Power ! you ? 
JEAN. Yes, all that money 

(LADY JOHN tries to make her way to STONOB.) 

Miss L. (suddenly turning from the CHAIRMAN to 

the crowd). Oh, yes, I hope you'll all join the Union. 

Come up after the meeting and give your names. 

LOUD VOICE. You won't get many men. 

MlSS L. (with fire}. Then it's to the women I appeal ! 

(She is about to retire when, with a sudden 

gleam in her lit eyes, she turns for the last 

time to the crowd, silencing the general 

murmur and holding the people by the 

sudden concentration of passion in her face.} 

I don't mean to say it wouldn't be better if men and 
women did this work together shoulder to shoulder. 



80 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

But the mass of men won't have it so. I only hope 
they'll realise in time the good they've renounced and 
the spirit they've aroused. For I know as well as any 
man could tell me, it would be a bad day for England 
if all women felt about all men as / do. 

(She retires in a tumult. The others on the plat- 
form close about her. The CHAIKMAN tries 
in vain to get a hearing from the excited 
crowd.) 

(JEAN tries to make her way through the knot 
of people surging round her.) 

STONOR (calls). Here ! Follow me ! 

JEAN. No no I 

STONOR. You're going the wrong way. 
JEAN. This is the way I must go. 
STONOR. You can get out quicker on this side. 
JEAN. I don't want to get out. 
STONOR. What ! Where are you going ? 
JEAN. To ask that woman to let me have the honour 
of working with her. 

(She disappears in the crowd.) 
CURTAIN. 



ACT III 

SCENE : The drawing-room at old MR. DUN- 
BARTON'S house in Eaton Square. Six 
o'clock the same evening. As the Curtain 
rises the door (L.) opens and JEAN appears 
on the threshold. She looks back into her 
own sitting-room, then crosses the drawing- 
room, treading softly on the parquet spaces 
between the rugs. She goes to the window 
and is in the act of parting the lace cur- 
tains when the folding doors (0.) are opened 
by the BUTLER. 

JEAN (to the Servant}. Sh ! 

(She goes softly back to the door she has left open 
and closes it carefully. When she turns, 
the BUTLER has stepped aside to admit 
GEOFFREY STONOR, and departed, shutting 
the folding doors. STONOR comes rapidly 
forward.) 

(Before he gets a word out.") Speak low, please. 

STONOR (angrily). I waited about a whole hour 
for you to come back. 

(JEAN turns away as though vaguely looking 
for the nearest chair.) 

G 81 



82 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

If yon didn't mind leaving me like that, you might 
have considered Lady John. 

JEAN (pausing). Is she here with you ? 

STONOR. No. My place was nearer than this, and 
she was very tired. I left her to get some tea. We 
couldn't tell whether you'd be here, or what had 
become of you. 

JEAN. Mr. Trent got us a hansom. 

STONOR. Trent ? 

JEAN. The Chairman of the meeting. 

STONOR. " Got us " ? 

JEAN. Miss Levering and me. 

STONOR (incensed). Miss L 

BUTLER (opens the door and announces) Mr. Farn- 
borough. 

(Enter MR. RICHARD FARNBOROUGH more 
flurried than ever.) 

FARN. (seeing STONOR). At last ! You'll forgive 

this incursion, Miss Dunbarton, when you hear 

(Turns abruptly back to STONOR.) They've been 
telegraphing you all over London. In despair they set 
me on your track. 

STONOR. Who did ? What's up ? 

FARN. (lays down his hat and fumbles agitatedly 
in his breast-pocket). There was the devil to pay at 
Dutfield last night. The Liberal chap tore down from 
London and took over your meeting ! 

STONOR. Oh ? Nothing about it in the Sunday 
paper /saw. 

FARN. Wait till you see the Press to-morrow morn- 
ing ! There was a great rally and the beggar made a 
rousing speech. 

STONOR. What about ? 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 83 

FARN. Abolition of the Upper House 

STONOR. They were at that when I was at 
Eton! 

FARN. Yes. But this new man has got a way of 
putting things ! the people went mad. (Pompously.) 
The Liberal platform as denned at Dutfield is going to 
make a big difference. 

STONOR (drily). You think so. 

FARN. Well, your agent says as much. (Opens 
telegram.) 

STONOR. My (Talcing telegram.) "Try find 

Stonor " Hm ! Hm ! 

FARN. (pointing). "tremendous effect of last night's 
Liberal manifesto ought to be counteracted in to- 
morrow's papers." (Very earnestly.) You see, Mr. 
Stonor, it's a battle-cry we want. 

STONOR (turns on Ms heel). Claptrap ! 

FARN. (a little dashed). Well, they've been saying 
we have nothing to offer but personal popularity. No 
practical reform. No 

STONOR. No truckling to the masses, I suppose. 
(Walks impatiently away.) 

FARN. (snubbed). Well, in these democratic days 

(Turns to JEAN for countenance.) I hope you'll forgive 
my bursting in like this. (Struck by her face.) But I can 

see you realise the gravity (Lowering his voice with 

an air of speaking for her ear alone.) It isn't as if he 
were going to be a mere private member. Everybody 
knows he'll be in the Cabinet. 

STONOR (drily). It may be a Liberal Cabinet. 

FARN. Nobody thought so up to last night. Why, 
even your brother but I am afraid I'm seeming 
officious. (Takes up his hat.) 

STONOR (coldly). What about my brother ? 



84 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

FARN. I met Lord Windlesham as I rushed out of 
the Carlton. 

STONOR. Did he say anything ? 

FARN. I told him the Dutfield news. 

STONOR (impatiently}. Well ? 

FARN. He said it only confirmed his fears. 

STONOR (half under his breath). Said that, did he ? 

FARN. Yes. Defeat is inevitable, he thinks, un- 
less (Pause.) 

(GEOFFREY STONOR, who has been pacing the 
floor, stops but doesn't raise his eyes.) 

unless you can " manufacture some political dynamite 
within the next few hours." Those were his words. 

STONOR (resumes his walking to and fro, raises his 
head and catches sight of JEAN'S white, drawn face. 
Stops short). You are very tired. 

JEAN. No. No. 

STONOR (to FARNBOROUGH). I'm obliged to you 
for taking so much trouble. (Shakes hands by way of 
dismissing FARNBOROUGH.) I'll see what can be 
done. 

FARN. (offering the reply-paid form). If you'd like 
to wire I'll take it. 

STONOR (faintly amused). You don't understand, 
my young friend. Moves of this kind are not rushed 
at by responsible politicians. I must have time for 
consideration. 

FARN. (disappointed). Oh, well, I only hope some- 
one else won't jump into the breach before you 
(Watch in hand) I tell you. (To JEAN.) I'll find out 
what time the newspapers go to press on Sunday. Good- 
bye. (To STONOR.) I'll be at the Club just in case I 
can be of any use. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 85 

STONOR (firmly*). No, don't do that. If I should 
have anything new to say 

FARN. (feverishly}. B-b-but with our party, as your 
brother said "heading straight for a vast electoral 
disaster " 

STONOR. If I decide on a counterblast I shall 
simply telegraph to headquarters. Goodbye. 

FARN. Oh a g-goodbye. (A gesture of "The 
country's going to the dogs") 

(JEAN rings the bell. Exit FARNBOROUGH.) 

STONOR (studying the carpet). " Political dynamite," 
eh ? (Pause.) After all ... women are much more 
conservative than men aren't they ? 

(JEAN looks straight in front of her, making no 
attempt to reply.) 

Especially the women the property qualification would 
bring in. (He glances at JEAN as though for the first 
time conscious of her silence.) You see now (he throws 
himself into the chair by the table) one reason why I've 
encouraged you to take an interest in public affairs. 
Because people like us don't go screaming about it, is 
no sign we don't (some of us) see what's on the way. 
However little they want to, women of our class will 
have to come into line. All the best things in the 
world everything that civilisation has won will be in 
danger if when this change comes the only women 
who have practical political training are the women of 
the lower classes. Women of the lower classes, and 
(his brows knit heavily) women inoculated by the 
Socialist virus. 

JEAN. Geoffrey. 

STONOR (draws the telegraph form towards him). Let 



86 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

us see, how we shall put it when the time comes 
shall we ? (He detaches a pencil from his watch chain 
and bends over the paper, writing.) 

(JEAN opens her lips to speak, moves a shade 
nearer the table and then falls back upon 
her silent, half-incredulous misery.) 

STONOB (holds the paper off, smiling}. Enough 
dynamite in that ! Rather too much, isn't there, little 
girl ? 

JEAN. Geoffrey, I know her story. 

STONOR. Whose story ? 

JEAN. Miss Levering's. 

STONOR. Whose ? 

JEAN. Vida Levering's. 

(STONOR stares speechless. Slight pause.) 

(The words escaping from her in a miserable cry) 
Why did you desert her ? 

STONOR (staggered.) I ? I? 

JEAN. Oh, why did you do it ? 

STONOR (bewildered). What in the name of 

What has she been saying to you ? 

JEAN. Some one else told me part. Then the way 
you looked when you saw her at Aunt Ellen's Miss 
Levering's saying you didn't know her then your 
letting out that you knew even the curious name on 
the handkerchief Oh, I pieced it together 

STONOR (with recovered self-possession). Your 
ingenuity is undeniable 1 

JEAN and then, when she said that at the meeting 
about " the dark hour " and I looked at your face it 
flashed over me Oh, why did you desert her ? 

STONOR. I didn't desert her. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 87 

JEAN. Ah-h ! (Puts her hands before her eyes.) 

' (STONOR makes a passionate motion towards her, 
is checked by her muffled voice saying} 

I'm glad I'm glad ! 

(He stares bewildered. JEAN drops her hands 
in her lap and steadies her voice.) 

She went away from you, then ? 

STONOR. You don't expect me to enter into 

JEAN. She went away from you ? 

STONOR (with a look of almost uncontrollable 
anger). Yes ! 

JEAN. Was that because you wouldn't marry 
her ? 

STONOR. I couldn't marry her and she knew it. 

JEAN. Did you want to ? 

STONOR (an instant's angry scrutiny and then 
turning away his eyes). I thought I did then. It's 
a long time ago. 

JEAN. And why " couldn't" you ? 

STONOR (a movement of strong irritation cut short). 
Why are you catechising me ? It's a matter that con- 
cerns another woman. 

JEAN. If you're saying that it doesn't concern me, 
you're saying (her lip trembles) that you don't 
concern me. 

STONOR (commanding his temper with difficulty). 
In those days I I was absolutely dependent on my 
father. 

JEAN. Why, you must have been thirty, Geoffrey. 

STONOR (slight pause). What ? Oh thereabouts. 

JEAN. And everybody says you're so clever. 

STONOR. Well, everybody's mistaken. 



88 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

JEAN (drawing nearer). It must have been terribly 

hard 

(STONOR turns towards her.) 
for you both 

(He arrests his movement and stands stonily.) 

that a man like you shouldn't have had the freedom 
that even the lowest seem to have. 

STONOR. Freedom ? 

JEAN. To marry the woman they choose. 

STONOR. She didn't break off our relations because 
I couldn't marry her. 

JEAN. Why was it, then ? 

STONOR. You're too young to discuss such a story. 
(Half turns away.) 

JEAN. I'm not so young as she was when 

STONOR (wheeling upon her). Very well, then, if 
you will have it ! The truth is, it didn't seem to weigh 
upon her, as it seems to on you, that I wasn't able to 
marry her. 

JEAN. Why are you so sure of that ? 

STONOR. Because she didn't so much as hint such 
a thing when she wrote that she meant to break off 
the the 

JEAN. What made her write like that ? 

STONOR (with suppressed rage). Why will you go 
on talking of what's so long over and ended ? 

JEAN. What reason did she give ? 

STONOR. If your curiosity has so got the upper hand 
ask her. 

JEAN (her eyes upon him). You're afraid to tell me. 

STONOR (putting pressure on himself to answer 
quietly). I still hoped at that time to win my 
father over. She blamed me because (goes to window 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 89 

and looks blindly out and speaks in a low tone) if 
the child had lived it wouldn't have been possible to 
get my father to to overlook it. 

JEAN (faintly}. You wanted it overlooked ? I 
don't underst 

STONOR (turning passionately back to her}. Of 
course you don't. (He seizes her hand and tries to 
draw her to him.) If you did, you wouldn't be the 
beautiful, tender, innocent child you are 

JEAN (has withdrawn her hand and shrunk from 
him with an impulse slight as is its expression so 
tragically eloquent, that fear for the first time catches 
hold of him). I am glad you didn't mean to desert 
her, Geoffrey. It wasn't your fault after all only 
some misunderstanding that can be cleared up. 

STONOR. Cleared up ? 

JEAN. Yes. Cleared up. 

STONOR (aghast). You aren't thinking that this 
miserable old affair I'd as good as forgotten 

JEAN (in a horror-struck whisper, with a glance at 
the door which he doesn't see). Forgotten ! 

STONOR. No, no. I don't mean exactly forgotten. 
But you're torturing me so I don't know what I'm 
saying. (Be goes closer.) You aren't Jean ! you 
you aren't going to let it come between you and me ! 

JEAN (presses her handkerchief to her lips, and then, 
taking it away, answers steadily). I can't make or 
unmake what's past. But I'm glad, at least, that you 
didn't mean to desert her in her trouble. You'll 
remind her of that first of all, won't you ? (Moves 
to the door, L.) 

STONOR. Where are you going ? (liaising his 
voice.) Why should I remind anybody of what I 
want only to forget ? 



90 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

JEAN (finger on lip}. Sh ! 

STONOR (with eyes on the door). You don't mean 

that she's 

JEAN. Yes. I left her to get a little rest. 

(He recoils in an access of uncontrollable rage. 
She follows him. Speechless, he goes down 
R. to get his hat.} 

Geoffrey, don't go before you hear me. I don't know 
if what I think matters to you now but I hope it 
does. ( With tears.) You can still make me think of 
you without shrinking if you will. 

STONOR (fixes her a moment with his eyes. Then 
sternly). What is it you are asking of me ? 

JEAN. To make amends, Geoffrey. 

STONOR (with an outburst). You poor little 
innocent ! 

JEAN. I'm poor enough. But (locking her hands 
together) I'm not so innocent but what I know you 
must right that old wrong now, if you're ever to 
right it. 

STONOR. You aren't insane enough to think I 
would turn round in these few hours and go back to 
something that ten years ago was ended for ever ! 
Why, it's stark, staring madness! 

JEAN. No. (Catching on his arm.) What you did 
ten years ago that was mad. This is paying a debt. 

STONOR. Look here, Jean, you're dreadfully 
wrought up and excited tired too 

JEAN. No, not tired though I've travelled so far 
to-day. I know you smile at sudden conversions. 
You think they're hysterical worse vulgar. But 
people must get their revelation how they can. And, 
Geoffrey, if I can't make you see this one of mine I 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 91 

shall know your love could never mean strength to 
me. Only weakness. And I shall be afraid. So 
afraid I'll never dare to give you the chance of making 
me loathe myself. I shall never see you again. 

STONOR. How right / was to be afraid of that vein 
of fanaticism in you. (Moves towards the door.) 

JEAN. Certainly you couldn't make a greater 
mistake than to go away now and think it any 
good ever to come back. (He turns.) Even if I came 
to feel different, I couldn't do anything different. I 
should know all this couldn't be forgotten. I should 
know that it would poison my life in the end. Yours 
too. 

STONOR (with suppressed fury). She has made 
good use of her time ! ( With a sudden thought.) 
What has changed her ? Has she been seeing visions 
too ? 

JEAN. What do you mean ? 

STONOR. Why is she intriguing to get hold of a 
man that, ten years ago, she flatly refused to see, or 
hold any communication with ? 

JEAN. " Intriguing to get hold of ? " She hasn't 
mentioned you ! 

STONOR. What ! Then how in the name of Heaven 
do you know that she wants what you ask ? 

JEAN (firmly). There can't be any doubt about 
that. 

STONOR (with immense relief). You absurd, ridicu- 
lous child ! Then all this is just your own unaided 
invention. Well I could thank God ! (Falls into 
the nearest chair and passes his handkerchief over his 
face.) 

JEAN (perplexed, uneasy). For what are you thank- 
ing God ? 



92 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

STONOE (trying to think out his plan of action). 
Suppose (I'm not going to risk it) but suppose 
(He looks up and at the sight of JEAN'S face a new 
tenderness comes into his own. He rises suddenly.} 
Whether I deserve to suffer or not it's quite certain 
you don't. Don't cry, dear one. It never was the 
real thing. I had to wait till I knew you before I 
understood. 

JEAN (lifts her eyes brimming). Oh, is that true ? 
(Checks her movement towards him.) Loving you 
has made things clear to me I didn't dream of before. 
If I could think that because of me you were able to 
do this 

STONOR (seizes her by the shoulders and says 
hoarsely). Look here ! Do you seriously ask me to 
give up the girl I love to go and offer to marry a 
woman that even to think of 

JEAN. You cared for her once. You'll care about 
her again. She is beautiful and brilliant everything. 
I've heard she could win any man she set herself 

to 

, STONOR (pushing JEAN from him). She's be- 
witched you ! 

JEAN. Geoffrey, Geoffrey, you aren't going away 
lik that. This isn't the end ! 

STONOR (darkly hesitating). I suppose even if 
she refused me, you'd 

JEAN. She won't refuse you. 

STONOR. She did once. 

JEAN. She didn't refuse to marry you 

(JEAN is going to the door L.) 



STONOR (catches her by the arm) Wait ! a 

(Hunting for some means of gaining time.) Lady John 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 93 

is waiting all this while for the car to go back with a 
message. 

JEAN. That's not a matter of life and death 

STONOR. All the same I'll go down and give the 
order. 

JEAN (stopping quite still on a sudden). Very 
well. (Sits C.) You'll come back if you're the 
man I pray you are. (Breaks into a flood of silent 
tears, her elbows on the table (C.) her face in her 
hands.} 

STONOR (returns, bends over Jier, about to take her 
in his arms). Dearest of all the world 

(Door L. opens softly and VIDA LEVERING 
appears. She is arrested at sight of 
STONOR, and is in the act of drawing 
back when, upon the slight noise, STONOR 
looks round. His face darkens, he stands 
staring at her and then with a look of 
speechless anger goes silently out C. JEAN, 
hearing him shut the door, drops her head 
on the table with a sob. VIDA LEVERING 
crosses slowly to her and stands a n/loment 
silent at the girl's side.) 

MISS L. What is the matter ? 

JEAN (lifting her head and drying her eyes). I 
I've been seeing Geoffrey. 

Miss L. (with an attempt at lightness). Is this the 
effect seeing Geoffrey has ? 

JEAN. You see, I know now (as MlSS LEVERING 
looks quite uncomprehending) how he (drops her eyes) 
how he spoiled some one else's life. 

MlSS L. (quickly). Who tells you that ? 

JEAN. Several people have told me. 



94 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS L. Well, you should be very careful how you 
believe what you hear. 

JEAN (passionately}. You know it's true. 

Miss L. I know that it's possible to be mistaken. 

JEAN. I see ! You're trying to shield him 

Miss L. Why should I what is it to me ? 

JEAN {with tears). Oh h, how you must love 
him! 

MlSS L. Listen to me 

JEAN (rising). What's the use of your going on 
denying it ? 

(MlSS LEVERING, about to break in, is silenced.) 
Geoffrey doesn't. 

(JEAN, struggling to command her feelings, goes 
to window. VIDA LEVERING relinquishes 
an impulse to follow, and sits left centre. 
JEAN comes slowly back with her eyes bent 
on the floor, does not lift them till she is quite 
near VlDA. Then the girl's self-absorbed 
face changes.) 

Oh, don't look like that ! I shall bring him back to 
you ! (Drops on her knees beside the other's chair.) 

MlSS L. You would be impertinent (softening) if 
you weren't a romantic child. You can't bring him 
back. 

JEAN. Yes, he 

MlSS L. But there's something you can do 

JEAN. What ? 

Miss L. Bring him to the point where he recognises 
that he's in our debt. 

JEAN. In our debt ? 

MlSS L. In debt to women. He can't repay the 
one he robbed 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 95 

JEAN (wincing and rising from her knees). Yes, 
yes. 

MISS L. (sternly). No, he can't repay the dead. 
But there are the living. There are the thousands 
with hope still in their hearts and youth in their 
blood. Let him help them. Let him. be a Friend to 
Women. 

JEAN (rising on a wave of enthusiasm). Yes, yes 
I understand. That too ! 

(The door opens. As STONOR enters with LADY 
JOHN, he makes a slight gesture towards 
the two as much as to say, " You see") 

JEAN (catching sight of him). Thank you ! 

LADY JOHN (in a clear, commonplace tone to JEAN). 
Well, you rather gave us the slip. Vida, I believe 
Mr. Stonor wants to see you for a few minutes (glances 
at watch) but I'd like a word with you first, as I 
must get back. (To STONOR.) Do you think the car 
your man said something about re-charging. 

STONOR (hastily). Oh, did he ? I'll see about it. 

(As STONOR is going out he encounters the 
BUTLER. Exit STONOR.) 

BUTLER. Mr. Trent has called, Miss, to take Miss 
Levering to the meeting. 

JEAN. Bring Mr. Trent into my sitting-room. I'll 
tell him you can't go to-night. 

[Exeunt BUTLER c., JEAN L. 

LADY JOHN (hurriedly). I know, my dear, you're 
not aware of what that impulsive girl wants to insist on. 

Miss L. Yes, I am aware of it. 

LADY JOHN. But it isn't with your sanction, surely, 
that she goes on making this extraordinary demand. 



96 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS L. (slowly). I didn't sanction it at first, but 
I've been thinking it over. 

LADY JOHN. Then all I can say is I am greatly 
disappointed in you. You threw this man over years 
ago for reasons whatever they were that seemed to 
you good and sufficient. And now you come between 
him and a younger woman just to play Nemesis, so 
far as I can make out ! 

MlSS L. Is that what he says ? 

LADY JOHN. He says nothing that isn't fair and 
considerate. 

Miss L. I can see he's changed. 

LADY JOHN. And you're unchanged is that it ? 

MlSS L. I've changed even more than he. 

LADY JOHN. But (pity and annoyance blended in 
her tone} you care about him still, Vida ? 

MlSS L. No. 

LADY JOHN. I see. It's just that you wish to marry 
somebody 

MlSS L. Oh, Lady John, there are no men 
listening. 

LADY JOHN (surprised). No, I didn't suppose there 
were. 

MlSS L. Then why keep up that old pretence ? 

LADY JOHN. What pre 

MlSS L. That to marry at all costs is every 
woman's dearest ambition till the grave closes over her. 
You and I know it isn't true. 

LADY JOHN. Well, but Oh ! it was just the 

unexpected sight of him bringing it back That 

was what fired you this afternoon ! ( With an honest 
attempt at sympathetic understanding.) Of course. 
The memory of a thing like that can never die can 
never even be dimmed /or the woman. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 97 

MISS L. I mean her to think so. 
LADY JOHN (bewildered}. Jean ! 

(Miss LEVERING nods.) 

LADY JOHN. And it isn't so ? 

MlSS L. You don't seriously believe a woman 
with anything else to think about, comes to the end 
of ten years still absorbed in a memory of that 
sort ? 

LADY JOHN (astonished). You've got over it, then ! 

Miss L. If the newspapers didn't remind me I 
shouldn't remember once a twelvemonth that .there 
was ever such a person as Geoffrey Stonor in the 
world. 

LADY JOHN (with unconscious rapture). Oh, I'm 
so glad ! 

MlSS L. (smiles grimly). Yes, I'm glad too. 

LADY JOHN. And if Geoffrey Stonor offered you 
what's called " reparation " you'd refuse it ? 

MlSS L. (smiles a little contemptuously). Geoffrey 
Stonor ! For me he's simply one of the far-back links 
in a chain of evidence. It's certain I think a hundred 
times of other women's present unhappiness, to once 
that I remember that old unhappiness of mine 
that's past. I think of the nail and chain makers of 
Cradley Heath. The sweated girls of the slums. I 
think of the army of ill-used women whose very 
existence I mustn't mention 

LADY JOHN (interrupting hurriedly). Then why 
in Heaven's name do you let poor Jean imagine 

MlSS L. (bending forward). Look I'll trust 
you, Lady John. I don't suffer from that old wrong 
as Jean thinks I do, but I shall coin her sympathy into 
gold for a greater cause than mine. 



98 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

LADY JOHN. I don't understand you. 

MlSS L. Jean isn't old enough to be able to care 
as much about a principle as about a person. But if 
my half-forgotten pain can turn her generosity into 
the common treasury 

LADY JOHN. What do you propose she shall do, 
poor child ? 

Miss L. Use her hold over Geoffrey Stonor to 
make him help us I 

LADY JOHN. Help you ? 

MlSS L. The man who served one woman God 
knows how many more very ill, shall serve hundreds 
of thousands well. Geoffrey Stonor shall make it 
harder for his son, harder still for his grandson, to 
treat any woman as he treated me. 

LADY JOHN. How will he do that ? 

Miss L. By putting an end to the helplessness of 
women. 

LADY JOHN (ironically}. You must think he has 
a great deal of power 

MlSS L. Power ? Yes, men have too much over 
penniless and frightened women. 

LADY JOHN (impatiently}. What nonsense! You 
talk as though the women hadn't their share of human 
nature. We aren't made of ice any more than the 
men. 

Miss L. No, but all the same we have more self- 
control. 

LADY JOHN. Than men ? 

MlSS L. You know we have. 

LADY JOHN (shrewdly}. I know we mustn't 
admit it. 

MlSS L. For fear they'd call us fishes ! 

LADY JOHN (evasively}. They talk of our lack of 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 99 

self-control bnt it's the last thing they want women 
to have. 

MlSS L. Oh, we know what they want us to 
have. So we make shift to have it. If we don't, we 
go without hope sometimes we go without bread. 

LADY JOHN (shocked). Vida do you mean to say 
that you 

MlSS L. I mean to say that men's vanity won't 
let them see it, but the thing's largely a question of 
economics. 

LADY JOHN (shocked). You never loved him, then ! 

MlSS L. Oh, yes, I loved him once. It was my 
helplessness turned the best thing life can bring, into 
a curse for both of us. 

LADY JOHN. I don't understand you 

MlSS L. Oh, being " understood ! " that's too 
much to expect. When people come to know I've 
joined the Union 



LADY JOHN. But you won't- 



MlSS L. who is there who will resist the temp- 
tation to say, " Poor Vida Levering ! What a pity she 
hasn't got a husband and a baby to keep her quiet " ? 
The few who know about me, they'll be equally sure 
that it's not the larger view of life I've gained my 
own poor little story is responsible for my new 
departure. (Leans forward and looks into LADY 
JOHN'S face.) My best friend, she will be surest of 
all, that it's a private sense of loss, or, lower yet, a 

grudge ! But I tell you the only difference 

between me and thousands of women with husbands 
and babies is that I'm free to say what I think. They 
aren't. 

LADY JOHN (rising and looking at her watch). I 
must get back my poor ill-used guests. 



100 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

Miss L. (rising}. I won't ring. I think you'll 
find Mr. Stonor downstairs waiting for you. 

LADY JOHN (embarrassed). Oh a he will have 
left word about the car in any case. 

(Miss LEVERING has opened the door (C.). 
ALLEN TRENT is in the act of saying 
goodbye to JEAN in the hall.} 

MlSS L. Well, Mr. Trent, I didn't expect to see 
you this evening. 

TRENT (comes and stands in the doorway). Why 
not ? Have I ever failed ? 

MlSS L. Lady John, this is one of our allies. 
He is good enough to squire me through the rabble 
from time to time. 

LADY JOHN. Well, I think it's very handsome of 
you, after what she said to-day about men. (Shakes 
hands.) 

TRENT. I've no great opinion of most men myself. 
I might add or of most women. 

LADY JOHN. Oh ! Well, at any rate I shall go 
away relieved to think that Miss Levering's plain 
speaking hasn't alienated all masculine regard. 

TRENT. Why should it ? 

LADY JOHN. That's right, Mr. Trent I Don't believe 
all she says in the heat of propaganda. 

TRENT. I do believe all she says. But I'm not 
cast down. 

LADY JOHN (smiling). Not when she says 

TRENT (interrupting). Was there never a mysogy- 
nist of my sex who ended by deciding to make an 
exception ? 

LADY JOHN (smiling significantly). Oh, if that's 
what you build on ! 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 101 

TRENT. Well, why shouldn't a man-hater on your 
side prove equally open to reason ? 

MISS L. That part of the question doesn't con- 
cern me. I've come to a place where I realise that the 
first battles of this new campaign must be fought by 
women alone. The only effective help men could give 
amendment of the law they refuse. The rest is 
nothing. 

LADY JOHN. Don't be ungrateful, Vida. Here's Mr. 
Trent ready to face criticism in publicly champion- 
ing you. 

MlSS L. It's an illusion that I as an individual 
need Mr. Trent. I am quite safe in the crowd. Please 
don't wait for me, and don't come for me again. 

TRENT (flushes). Of course if you'd rather 

MlSS L. And that reminds me. I was asked to 
thank you and to tell you, too, that they the women of 
the Union they won't need your chairmanship any 
more though that, I beg you to believe, has nothing 
to do with any feeling of mine. 

TRENT (hurt). Of course, I know there must be 
other men ready better known men 

MlSS L. It isn't that. It's simply that they find 
a man can't keep a rowdy meeting in order as well as 
a woman. 

(He stares.") 

LADY JOHN. You aren't serious ? 

Miss L. (to TRENT). Haven't you noticed that 
all their worst disturbances come when men are in 
charge ? 

TRENT. Well a (laughs a little ruefully as he 
moves to the door) I hadn't connected the two ideas. 
Goodbye. 



102 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MlSS L. Goodbye. 

(JEAN takes him downstairs, right centre,} 

LADY JOHN (as TRENT disappears). That nice 
boy's in love with you. 

(Miss LEVERING simply looks at her.} 

LADY JOHN. Goodbye. (They shake hands.} I 
wish you hadn't been so unkind to that nice boy ! 

MISS L. Do you ? 

LADY JOHN. Yes, for then I would be more certain 
of your telling Geoffrey Stonor that intelligent women 
don't nurse their wrongs and lie in wait to punish 
them. 

MlSS L. You are not certain ? 

LADY JOHN (goes close up to VIDA). Are you ? 

(VlDA stands with her eyes on the ground, silent, 
motionless. LADY JOHN, with a nervous 
glance at her watch and a gesture of 
extreme perturbation, goes hurriedly out. 
VlDA shuts the door. She comes slowly 
back, sits down and covers her face with 
her hands. She rises and begins to walk 
up and down, obviously trying to master 
her agitation. Enter GEOFFREY STONOR.) 

MlSS L. Well, have they primed you ? Have 
you got your lesson (with a little broken laugh} by 
heart at last ? 

STONOR (looking at her from immeasurable dis- 
tance}. I am not sure I understand you. (Pause.} 
However unpropitious your mood may be I shall 
discharge my errand. (Pause. Her silence irritates 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 103 

him.} I have promised to offer you what I believe is 
called " amends." 

MiSS L. (quickly). You've come to realise, then 
after all these years that you owed me something ? 

STONOR (on the brink of protest, checks himself). I 
am not here to deny it. 

MISS L. (fiercely}. Pay, then pay. 

STONOR (a moment's dread as he looks at her, his 
lips set. Then stonily). I have promised that, if you 
exact it, I will. 

MISS L. Ah ! If I insist you'll " make it all 
good"! (Quite loiv.) Then don't you know you 
must pay me in kind ? 

STONOR. What do you mean. 

Miss L. Give me back what you took from me : 
my old faith. Give me that. 

STONOR. Oh, if you mean to make phrases (A 

gesture of scant patience.) 

MiSS L. (going closer). Or give me back mere kind- 
ness or even tolerance. Oh, I don't mean your 
tolerance ! Give me back the power to think fairly 
of my brothers not as mockers thieves. 

STONOR. I have not mocked you. And I have 
asked you 

MiSS L. Something you knew I should refuse ! 
Or (her eyes blase) did you dare to be afraid I 
wouldn't ? 

STONOR. I suppose, if we set our teeth, we 

could 

MiSS L. I couldn't not even if I set my teeth. 
And you wouldn't dream of asking me, if you thought 
there was the smallest chance. 

STONOR. I can do no more than make you an 
offer of such reparation as is in my power. If you 



104 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

don't accept it (He turns with an air of " That's 

done:'} 

MlSS L. Accept it ? No ! ... Go away and live 
in debt ! Pay and pay and pay and find yourself 
still in debt ! for a thing you'll never be able to give 
me back. (Lower.} And when you come to die, say 
to yourself, " I paid all creditors but one." 

STONOR. I'm rather tired, you know, of this talk 
of debt. If I hear that you persist in it I shall 
have to 

MISS L. What ? (She faces him} 

STONOR. No. I'll keep to my resolution. (Turn- 
ing to the door.} 

Miss L. (intercepting him}. What resolution ? 

STONOR. I came here, under considerable pressure, 
to speak of the future not to re-open the past. 

MlSS L. The Future and the Past are one. 

STONOR. You talk as if that old madness was mine 
alone. It is the woman's way. 

MlSS L. I know. And it's not fair. Men suffer as 
well as we by the woman's starting wrong. We are 
taught to think the man a sort of demigod. If he tells 
her : " go down into Hell " down into Hell she goes. 

STONOR. Make no mistake. Not the woman alone. 
They go down together. 

MlSS L. Yes, they go down together, but the man 
comes up alone. As a rule. It is more convenient so 
for him. And for the Other Woman. 

(The eyes of both go to JEAN'S door.} 

STONOR (angrily}. My conscience is clear. I know 
and so do you that most men in my position 
wouldn't have troubled themselves. I gave myself 
endless trouble. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 105 

Miss L. (with wondering eyes). So you've gone 
about all these years feeling that you'd discharged 
every obligation. 

STONOR. Not only that. I stood by you with a 
fidelity that was nothing short of Quixotic. If, woman 
like, you must' recall the Past I insist on your re- 
calling it correctly. 

Miss L. (very low). You think I don't recall it 
correctly ? 

STONOR. Not when you make other people 
believe that I deserted you. ( With gathering wrath.} 
It's a curious enough charge when you stop to con- 
sider (Checks himself, and with a gesture of im- 
patience sweeps the whole thing out of his way.} 

Miss L. Well, when we do just for five minutes 
out of ten years when we do stop to consider 

STONOR. We remember it was you who did the 
deserting ! Since you had to rake the story up, you 
might have had the fairness to tell the facts. 

MlSS L. You think " the facts " would have excused 
you ! (She sits.} 

STONOR. No doubt you've forgotten them, since 
Lady John tells me you wouldn't remember my 
existence once a year if the newspapers didn't 

Miss L. Ah, you minded that ! 

STONOR (with manly spirit}. I minded your giving 
false impressions. (She is about to speak, he advances 
on her.} Do you deny that you returned my letters 
unopened ? 

Miss L. (quietly}. No. 

STONOR. Do you deny that you refused to see me 
and that, when I persisted, you vanished ? 

Miss L. I don't deny any of those things. 

STONOR. Why, I had no trace of you for years ! 



106 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

MiSS L. I suppose not. 

STONOR. Very well, then. What could I do ? 

MiSS L. Nothing. It was too late to do any- 
thing. 

STONOR. It wasn't too late ! You knew since 
you " read the papers " that my father died that same 
year. There was no longer any barrier between us. 

MiSS L. Oh yes, there was a barrier. 

STONOR. Of your own making, then. 

MiSS L. I had my guilty share in it but the 
barrier (her voice trembles') the barrier was your 
invention. 

STONOR. It was no "invention." If you had 
ever known my father 

MiSS L. Oh, the echoes ! The echoes ! How 
often you used to say, if I " knew your father ! " But 
you said, too (lower) you called the greatest barrier 
by another name. 

STONOR. What name ? 

MiSS L. (very low). The child that was to come. 

STONOR (hastily). That was before my father died. 
While I still hoped to get his consent. 

MiSS L. (nods). How the thought of that all- 
powerful personage used to terrorise me ! What 
chance had a little unborn child against " the last of 
the great feudal lords," as you called him. 

STONOR. You know the child would have stood 
between you and me ! 

MiSS L. I know the child did stand between 
you and me ! 

STONOR (with vague uneasiness). It did stand 

MiSS L. Happy mothers teach their children. 
Mine had to teach me. 

STONOR. You talk as if 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 107 

Miss L. teach me that a woman may do a thing 
for love's sake that shall kill love. 

(A silence.') 

STONOR (fearing and putting from him fuller com- 
prehension, rises with an air of finality). You cer- 
tainly made it plain you had no love left for me. 

MISS L. I had need of it all for the child. 

STONOR (stares comes closer, speaks hurriedly and 
very low). Do you mean then that, after all it 
lived ? 

MlSS L. No ; I mean that it was sacrificed. But 
it showed me no barrier is so impassable as the one a 
little child can raise. 

STONOR (a light dawning). Was that why you . . . 
was that why ? 

Miss L. (nods, speechless a moment). Day and 
night there it was ! between my thought of you and 
me. (He sits again, staring at her.) When I was 
most unhappy I would wake, thinking I heard it cry. It 
was my own crying I heard, but I seemed to have it in 
my arms. I suppose I was mad. I used to lie there 
in that lonely farmhouse pretending to hush it. It 
was so I hushed myself. 

STONOR. I never knew 

MlSS L. I didn't blame you. You couldn't risk 
being with me. 

STONOR. You agreed that for both our sakes 

MlSS L. Yes, you had to be very circumspect. 
You were so well known. Your autocratic father 
your brilliant political future 

STONOR. Be fair. Our future as I saw it then. 

MlSS L. Yes, it all hung on concealment. It 
must have looked quite simple to you. You didn't 



108 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

know that the ghost of a child that had never seen the 
light, the frail thing you meant to sweep aside and 
forget have swept aside and forgotten you didn't 
know it was strong enough to push you out of my life, 
(Lower with an added intensity.) It can do more. 
(Leans over him and whispers.) It can push that girl 
out. (STONOR'S face changes.) It can do more 
still. 

STONOR. Are you threatening me ? 

MlSS L. No, I am preparing you. 

STONOR. For what ? 

MlSS L. For the work that must be done. Either 
with your help or that girl's. 

(STONOR lifts his eyes a moment.) 

MlSS L. One of two things. Either her life, and 
all she has, given to this new service or a Ransom, 
if I give her up to you. 

STONOR. I see. A price. Well ? 

MlSS L. (looks searchingly in his face, hesitates 
and shakes her head). Even if I could trust you to 
pay no, it would be a poor bargain to give her up for 
anything you could do. 

STONOR (rising). In spite of your assumption she 
may not be your tool. 

MlSS L. You are horribly afraid she is ! But 
you are wrong. Don't think it's merely I that have got 
hold of Jean Dunbarton. 

STONOR (angrily). Who else ? 

MlSS L. The New Spirit that's abroad. 

(STONOR turns away with an exclamation and 
begins to pace, sentinel-like, up and down 
before JEAN'S door.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 109 

MISS L. How else should that inexperienced 
girl have felt the new loyalty and responded as she 
did ? 

STONOR (under his breath}. " New " indeed 
however little loyal. 

MiSS L. Loyal above all. But no newer than 
electricity was when it first lit up the world. It had 
been there since the world began waiting to do away 
with the dark. So has the thing you're fighting. 

STONOR (his voice held down to its lowest register). 
The thing I'm fighting is nothing more than one 
person's hold on a highly sensitive imagination. I con- 
sented to this interview with the hope (A gesture 

of impotence.} It only remains for me to show her 
your true motive is revenge. 

MISS L. Once say that to her and you are lost ! 

(STONOR motionless ; his look is the look of a 
man who sees happiness slipping away.} 

MiSS L. I know what it is that men fear. It 
even seems as if it must be through fear that your 
enlightenment will come. That is why I see a value 
in Jean Dunbarton far beyond her fortune. 

(STONOR lifts his eyes dully and fixes them 
on VIDA'S face.} 

MiSS L. More than any girl I know if I keep 
her from you that gentle, inflexible creature could 
rouse in men the old half -superstitious fear 

STONOR. " Fear ? " I believe you are mad. 

MiSS L. "Mad." "Unsexed." These are the 
words to-day. In the Middle Ages men cried out 
" Witch I " and burnt her the woman who served no 
man's bed or board. 



110 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

STONOR. You want to make that poor child 
believe 

MiSS L. She sees for herself we've come to a 
place where we find there's a value in women apart 
from the value men see in them. You teach us 
not to look to you for some of the things we need 
most. If women must be freed by women, we have 
need of such as (her eyes go to JEAN'S door) who 
knows ? She may be the new Joan of Arc. 

STONOR (aghast}. That she should be the sacrifice ! 

MiSS L. You have taught us to look very calmly 
on the sacrifice of women. Men tell us in every 
tongue it's " a necessary evil." 

(STONOR stands rooted, staring at the ground.) 

MiSS L. One girl's happiness against a thing 
nobler than happiness for thousands who can hesi- 
tate ? Not Jean. 

STONOR. Good God I Can't you see that this 
crazed campaign you'd start her on even if it's suc- 
cessful, it can only be so through the help of men ? 
What excuse shall you make your own soul for not 
going straight to the goal ? 

MiSS L. You think we wouldn't be glad to go 
straight to the goal ? 

STONOR. I do. I see you'd much rather punish 
me and see her revel in a morbid self-sacrifice. 

MiSS L. You say I want to punish you only be- 
cause, like most men, you won't take the trouble to 
understand what we do want or how determined we 
are to have it. You can't kill this new spirit among 
women. (Going nearer.) And you couldn't make a 
greater mistake than to think it finds a home only in 
the exceptional, or the unhappy. It's so strange, 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 111 

Geoffrey, to see a man like you as much deluded as the 
Hyde Park loafers who say to Ernestine Blunt, 
" Who's hurt your feelings ? " Why not realise (go- 
ing quite close to him) this is a thing that goes 
deeper than personal experience ? And yet (lowering 
her voice and glancing at the door), if you take only 
the narrowest personal view, a good deal depends on 
what you and I agree upon in the next five minutes. 

STONOR (bringing her farther away from the door). 
You recommend my realising the larger issues. But 
in your ambition to attach that girl to the chariot 
wheels of "Progress," you quite ignore the fact that 
people fitter for such work the men you look to 
enlist in the end are ready waiting to give the thing a 
chance. 

MlSS L. Men are ready ! What men ? 

STONOR (avoiding her eyes, picking his words). 
Women have themselves to blame that the question 
has grown so delicate that responsible people shrink 
for the moment from being implicated in it. 

MlSS L. We have seen the " shrinking." 

STONOR. Without quoting any one else, I might 
point out that the New Antagonism seems to have 
blinded you to the small fact that I, for one, am not 
an opponent. 

Miss L. The phrase has a familiar ring. We have 
heard it from four hundred and twenty others. 

STONOR. I spoke, if I may say so, of some one who 
would count. Some one who can carry his party 
along with him or risk a seat in the Cabinet. 

MlSS L. (quickly). Did you mean you are ready to 
do that ? 

STONOR. An hour ago I was. 

MlSS L. Ah ! ... an hour ago. 



112 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

STONOR. Exactly. You don't understand men. 
They can be led. They can't be driven. Ten minutes 
before you came into the room I was ready to say I 
would throw in my political lot with this Reform. 

MISS L. And now . . . ? 

STONOR. Now you block my way by an attempt at 
coercion. By forcing my hand you give my adherence 
an air of bargain-driving for a personal end. Exactly 
the mistake of the ignorant agitators of your " Union," 
as you call it. You have a great deal to learn. This 
movement will go forward, not because of the agitation, 
but in spite of it. There are men in Parliament who 
would have been actively serving the Reform to-day 
... as actively as so vast a constitutional change 

MlSS L. (smiles faintly}. And they haven't done it 
because 

STONOR. Because it would have put a premium on 
breaches of decent behaviour. (He takes a crumpled 
piece of paper out of Ms pocket.} Look here ! 

MlSS L. (flushes with excitement as she reads the 
telegram}. This is very good. I see only one objection. 

STONOR. Objection ! 

MlSS L. You haven't sent it. 

STONOR. That is your fault. 

MlSS L. When did you write this ? 

STONOR. Just before you came in when (He 

glances at the door.} 

MlSS L. Ah ! It must have pleased Jean that 
message. (Offers him back the paper.} 

(STONOR astonished at her yielding it up so 
lightly, and remembering JEAN had not 
so much as read it. He throws himself 
heavily into a chair and drops his head 
in his hands.) 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 113 

MISS L. I could drive a hard-and-fast bargain with 
you, but I think I won't. If both love and ambition 

urge you on, perhaps (She gazes at the slack, 

hopeless figure with its sudden look of age goes over 
silently and stands by his side.} After all, life hasn't 
been quite fair to you 

(He raises his heavy eyes.} 

You fall out of one ardent woman's dreams into 
another's. 

STONOR. You may as well tell me do you mean 

MISS L. To keep you and her apart ? No. 

STONOR (for the first time tears come into his eyes. 
After a moment he holds out his hand). What can I 
do for you ? 

(Miss LEVERING shakes her head speechless.} 

STONOR. For the real you. Not the Reformer, or 
the would-be politician for the woman I so un- 
willingly hurt. (As she turns away, struggling with 
her feeling, he lays a detaining hand on her arm.} 
You may not believe it, but now that I understand, 
there is almost nothing I wouldn't do to right that 
old wrong. 

Miss L. There's nothing to be done. You can 
never give me back my child. 

STONOR (at the anguish in VIDA'S face his own has 
changed}. Will that ghost give you no rest ? 

MISS L. Yes, oh, yes. I see life is nobler than 
I knew. There is work to do. 

STONOR (stopping her as she goes towards the folding 
doors}. Why should you think that it's only you, 
these ten years have taught something to ? Why not 



114 VOTES FOR WOMEN 

give even a man credit for a willingness to learn some- 
thing of life, and for being sorry profoundly sorry 
for the pain his instruction has cost others ? You seem 
to think I've taken it all quite lightly. That's not fair. 
All my life, ever since you disappeared, the thought of 
you has hurt. I would give anything I possess to 
know you were happy again. 

MISS L. Oh, happiness ! 

STONOR (significantly}. Why shouldn't you find it 
still. 

Miss L. {stares an instant}. I see ! She couldn't 
help telling about Allen Trent Lady John couldn't. 

STONOR. You're one of the people the years have 
not taken from, but given more to. You are more 
than ever . . . You haven't lost your beauty. 

MlSS L. The gods saw it was so little effectual, it 
wasn't worth taking away. (She stands looking out 
into the void.} One woman's mishap ? what is that ? 
A thing as trivial to the great world as it's sordid in 
most eyes. But the time has come when a woman 
may look about her, and say, "What general signifi- 
cance has my secret pain ? Does it ' join on ' to any- 
thing ? " And I find it does. I'm no longer merely a 
woman who has stumbled on the way. I'm one (she 
controls with difficulty the shake in her voice} who has 
got up bruised and bleeding, wiped the dust from her 
hands and the tears from her face, and said to herself 
not merely, " Here's one luckless woman ! but here is 
a stone of stumbling to many. Let's see if it can't be 
moved out of other women's way." And she calls 
people to come and help. No mortal man, let alone a 
woman, by herself, can move that rock of offence. 
But (with a sudden sombre flame of enthusiasm} if 
many help, Geoffrey, the thing can be done. 



VOTES FOR WOMEN 115 

STONOR (looks at her with wondering pity}. Lord ! 
how you care ! 

Miss L. (touched by his moved face). Don't be so 
sad. Shall I tell you a secret ? Jean's ardent dreams 
needn't frighten you, if she has a child. That 
from the beginning, it was not the strong arm it was 
the weakest the little, little arms that subdued the 
fiercest of us. 

(STONOR puts out a pitying hand uncertainly 
towards her. She does not take it, but 
speaks with great gentleness.) 

You will have other children, Geoffrey for me there 
was to be only one. Well, well (she brushes her tears 
away) since men alone have tried and failed to make 
a decent world for the little children to live in it's as 
well some of us are childless. (Quietly taking up her 
hat and cloak.) Yes, we are the ones who have no 
excuse for standing aloof from the fight. 

STONOR. Vida ! 

Miss L. What ? 

STONOR. You've forgotten something. (.4s she 
looks back he is signing the message.} This. 

(She goes out silently with the "political 
dynamite " in her hand.} 

CURTAIN. 






Ube (Srcsbam press, 

UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED, 
VVOKING AND LONDON. 



; C~7T. GOT 3 



Robins, Elizabeth 
271V Votes for woman 










V i 

* . . 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 



UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY